Durbin: $320 Million Public-Private Partnership Brings Future of American Manufacturing Competitiveness to Illinois

New Defense Department Manufacturing Institute will create jobs and stimulate innovation from Carbondale to Chicago and from Springfield to the Quad Cities

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] - U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) said that the $70 million grant awarded to UI Labs will bring the future of American manufacturing to Illinois.  Under today’s announcement, Chicago will host a new national Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation (or Digital Lab) organized by the Department of Defense that is expected to create thousands of jobs in advanced manufacturing fields, improve military readiness and make our economy more competitive.

As the Assistant Senate Majority Leader, the Chairman for the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense and the senior Senator from Illinois, Durbin lead the Congressional effort in securing today’s grant following a series of meetings and conversations with White House officials and two coordinated delegation letters to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel which can be accessed HERE and HERE

“This new Digital Lab has the potential to revolutionize the way the United States approaches manufacturing and it will be centered right here in Illinois,” Durbin said. “Partners from across the state including the Quad Cities Manufacturing Laboratory, the Blue Waters Supercomputer at the University of Illinois, Southern Illinois University and the City Chicago will be at the forefront of innovative, industry-driven research that will make America more competitive on the global stage.  Illinois will undoubtedly benefit from the estimated 75,000 new jobs created in the first five years through this research.”


UI Labs leads a consortium of more than 750 industry, academic, government, community and organizational supporters and partners which have committed $250 million to the project - more than tripling the federal investment.  Included are the nation’s premier engineering schools, the country’s leading defense and commercial manufacturers, one of the world’s most powerful supercomputers and nationally-recognized educational and business development partners. 


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.  The Department of Defense is the lead agency on the Digital Lab that was awarded to Chicago today.


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.