The Quad Cities Chamber has been named a sub-awardee on a second federal grant from the U.S. Department of Defense’s Office of Economic Adjustment. The funds will be applied to the Chamber’s economic development program, the Quad Cities Manufacturing Innovation Hub (the Hub), which is aimed at helping manufacturing and defense firms grow, diversify and stay competitive when market forces change.
The University of Illinois at Chicago, the primary grant recipient, received the $2.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense's Office of Economic Adjustment to support economic research and resiliency in Illinois' military-connected communities. The Quad Cities is one of five Illinois defense communities that will benefit from this grant. The 18-month grant, led by UIC's Nathalie P. Voorhees Center for Neighborhood and Community Improvement, will back the development and use of an online tool for regional partners and economic development organizations in the Quad Cities, Rockford, Peoria and Chicago.
This announcement follows phase one of the grant which was launched in 2015 with a two-year, $5.5 million grant from the Department of Defense to the University of Illinois System. The Quad Cities Chamber was also a sub-grantee of phase one grant dollars, and used the funding in support of the Hub. The Hub’s programs and services served as a pilot for future statewide initiatives.
With the phase two grant, partners will have access to the Supply Chain Mapping Tool, an online platform managed by the UIC Voorhees Center for the Illinois DIA Program. The tool will provide users with real-time data for an informed perspective of the federal military's manufacturing and supply chain in this part of the country, and help quantify the effect of Dept. of Defense changes, expansions and cutbacks in these regions. In the Quad Cities, the tool will be used by regional economic developers to identify areas for potential growth within the manufacturing supply chain.
In addition to the online Supply Chain Mapping Tool, funds from the new grant in the Quad Cities region also will be used to support diversification strategies, technology adoption efforts, DFARS cybersecurity certifications, and advanced strategic planning to keep our region’s defense, manufacturing and supply-chain businesses globally competitive and ready for growth. The Quad Cities region covers businesses in Scott, Clinton, Muscatine, Jackson, and Cedar Counties in Iowa and Rock Island, Whiteside, Henry, Mercer, and Knox Counties in Illinois.
“Manufacturing and defense are two crucial industries in the Quad Cities,” says Liz Murray Tallman, Chief Economic Development Officer, Quad Cities Chamber. “This tool will help us identify opportunities to target companies within local industry supply chain and work to attract those businesses to the Quad Cities. This presents an opportunity to strengthen industry clusters in the regional economy.”
The grant marks phase two of the State of Illinois Defense Industry Adjustment Program, also known as the Illinois DIA program, a data-driven initiative to assist communities linked to the defense industry adapt to changes in federal military spending. Phase one partners, the University of Illinois System and Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce, will be joined in phase two by the Chicago Metro Metal Consortium, the Rockford Area Economic Development Council, and the Greater Peoria Economic Development Council.
“The Quad Cities region is a leader in both manufacturing and defense. The Rock Island Arsenal not only plays a critical role in our national defense strategy, but it is a major economic driver in our region,” said Congresswoman Cheri Bustos. ”As the needs of the defense industry change, this federal investment will allow area defense contractors and their suppliers to adapt and continue providing our troops with everything they need, both at wartime and at peace. By working together, we will ensure the Arsenal remains competitive for generations to come as our community leads the way in 21st century manufacturing.”
"This grant enables the Voorhees Center, in partnership with regional economic development organizations in defense-intensive regions in Illinois, to provide relevant insights and information, and to facilitate support and services to defense-connected manufacturers and businesses in the state," said Yittayih Zelalem, co-director of the UIC Voorhees Center.
The Voorhees Center, which is based in the UIC College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs, will coordinate and work collaboratively with the partners to outline strategies that address the economic shifts and outcomes experienced in defense-dependent communities.
The second phase of the grant will also continue efforts to bolster the Illinois Defense Network, which is managed by the University of Illinois System to engage stakeholders from industry, government, and academia to develop and implement programs that strengthen Illinois' defense economy and connect communities through the State of Illinois DIA Program. Established earlier this year, the network will share industry best practices and address critical needs, such as assistance with cybersecurity assessments.