Cheri Bustos applauds new manufacturing initiative

U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos
U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos

Online Staff Report

U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos (IL-17) on Tuesday, joined President Barack Obama (D), other members of the Illinois Congressional Delegation, and leaders from across Illinois at the White House to formally announce a first-of-its-kind national Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation (DMDI) Institute.

Also known as Digital Lab, the institute is organized by the Department of Defense (DoD) and will be based in Illinois. The new initiative, which could create thousands of good jobs across the state, is funded by a $70 million DoD grant and $250 million from a consortium of hundreds of industry, academic, government, community and organizational supporters and partners throughout Illinois and the country.

Last year during the president’s trip to Galesburg, Bustos urged him to bring the Digital Lab to Illinois. Bustos also helped lead a letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to secure the grant.

“Growing our economy, creating jobs and bolstering American manufacturing have been my focus since taking office,” Bustos said. “(That is) why I personally urged President Obama last year in Galesburg to bring this new Digital Lab to Illinois. I couldn’t be more pleased by this important announcement today and believe it will lead to our region being home to even more of the good-paying and innovative manufacturing and research jobs of the future.”

Partners in the new Digital Lab from Illinois’ 17th Congressional District include, but are not limited to, the Quad Cities Manufacturing Lab, John Deere, Western Illinois University – Engineer Campus, Black Hawk Community College, Rockford Area Economic Development Council, Caterpillar and Bradley University. 

In his 2013 State of the Union address, President Obama proposed a series of new manufacturing institutes each designed to serve as a regional hub that will build on recent manufacturing gains by bringing together innovative research with product development with the goal of making American factories smarter, faster and more efficient. 

Leveraging the Midwest’s unique capabilities, partnerships and workforce, the Digital Lab will develop innovative solutions that transform both defense and civilian industries with hundreds of billions in annual savings. 

Because many of the new jobs created will require new skills that the workforce must follow, the Digital Lab will also serve as a vehicle for workforce development, through partnerships with trade associations, community colleges, and local economic development organizations. 

By increasing transparency and lowering barriers, digital manufacturing technologies will create new opportunities for small manufacturers and create high-wage, high-skilled jobs for American workers.

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