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(Quad Cities) - The Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce today announced the official launch of the Quad Cities Manufacturing Innovation Hub. The Quad Cities Manufacturing Innovation Hub will advance the area economy by helping regional manufacturers grow, diversify, and stay competitive.

"There’s a revolution underway in the manufacturing industry, and the Quad Cities Manufacturing Innovation Hub is here to help small and medium firms sort through the new technologies available, determine the impact to their business, and decide how to implement the changes,” says Curt Burnett, Executive Director, Quad Cities Manufacturing Innovation Hub. "We are at a unique point in time with so many new product forms, materials, manufacturing processes, and the internet of things coming together on the shop floor. Over the next few years, the ability to deal with this change will produce winners and losers all over the globe. The Hub is working proactively to make this region a winner.”

The Quad Cities Manufacturing Innovation Hub will assist businesses by offering services such as operational assessments, registry in a regional catalog of manufacturers and suppliers, trade and business-to-business events, access to national and international marketing, access to subject matter experts through the Chamber’s Critical Talent Network, connections to the Quad City Manufacturing Lab and national research, and training seminars targeted at key technologies.

"The idea to create a Quad Cities Manufacturing Innovation Hub emerged out of the Chamber’s Regional Opportunities Council, a subset of the Chamber that regularly meets to identify projects that have the potential to significantly impact our region’s growth,” says Tara Barney, President and CEO, Quad Cities Chamber. "With the launch of the Hub, we celebrate a new regional asset that emerged out of great thinking on behalf of area leaders and a focused commitment on turning a big idea into a real service to one of our largest employment sectors.”

The Hub concept was advanced through an Investing in Manufacturing Community Partnership (IMCP) planning grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration in 2013. A business planning taskforce comprised of people from private business, government, and academia spent a year developing the model for the Hub.

There are 16 planned federally-designated National Network for Manufacturing Innovation centers across the country, each focusing on a different type of technology. The Quad Cities Manufacturing Innovation Hub seeks to develop relationships with all appropriate centers to bring national research to local businesses.

The Quad Cities Manufacturing Innovation Hub is creating a technology roadmap for the future that will identify key technologies to impact area manufacturers in the next three years. This will help support positive growth within area manufacturers, ensure that small and medium firms can be strong suppliers to large manufacturers, and help market the strength of the Quad Cities manufacturing industry.

"This is representative of a transformation in economic development services offered in the Quad Cities,” says Paul Rumler, Chief Economic Development Officer, Quad Cities Chamber. "On top of work we have been doing to attract new companies and support businesses in their expansion efforts, we’re now offering specialized technical and networked assistance. These services will specifically support small and medium sized manufacturers within our supply chain.”

The Quad Cities Manufacturing Innovation Hub is already working with three area businesses.

"When working with a manufacturer, the first thing we do is a free assessment, through which we meet with the team, learn about their processes, tour the floor, and find out what their biggest opportunities and threats are,” says Burnett. "From that point we connect them to subject-matter experts through the Chamber’s Critical Talent Network, to national research, or to any of the forty regional agencies that are set up to help small and medium manufacturers thrive. We’re the facilitators that help busy manufacturers sort through the limitless options that are presented with new technologies.”

The Quad Cities Chamber is working in partnership with the Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center (IMEC), the Iowa State Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS), and the Quad City Manufacturing Lab (QCML) on Hub operations and services.

For more information about the Quad Cities Manufacturing Innovation Hub, visit QuadCitiesChamber.com/QCMIH or emailAsktheHub@QuadCitiesChamber.com

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