Durbin, Bustos Highlight Potential of Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute

ROCKFORD, IL – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Representative Cheri Bustos (D-IL-17) today outlined the potential impact the new the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (or Digital Lab) will have on the Rockford region and throughout Illinois. The Digital Lab, which will officially open its doors this fall, is a first-of-its-kind manufacturing hub that will bring the future of American manufacturing to Illinois. Supported by $320 million—including $70 million in direct federal investment—the Digital Lab could help create 75,000 jobs over the next five years.

“Today’s manufacturing is much different than that of our parents. Manufacturers must now be ready to take on the jobs of the future—ones that blend traditional hands-on skills with advanced technology and robotics—leading to new innovations,” Durbin said. “Illinois’ Digital Lab will make our small and midsize manufacturers more competitive globally by allowing them to integrate computing capabilities throughout design, testing, and production. But most importantly, the Lab will be a great source of innovation, development, and economic growth in the state of Illinois and position us as a leader in the field for years to come.”

“Our workers are some of the best in the world, and bolstering manufacturing in our region has been a key priority of mine since taking office, and why I urged President Obama in Galesburg last year to bring this promising Digital Lab to Illinois,” said Congresswoman Bustos. “Senator Durbin has been a steadfast advocate for this initiative as well, and I'm pleased that we had this opportunity to partner with community leaders for today's information session and believe the Digital Lab creates significant promise for manufacturing and research jobs in our region.”

“The University of Illinois thanks Senator Durbin for bringing regional manufacturing stakeholders together and leading a discussion about the vast potential of the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute,” University President Robert Easter said. "We are also grateful to Senator Durbin, Congresswoman Bustos, and the entire Illinois congressional delegation for their efforts in advancing the institute — an important victory for our entire state that will create jobs and drive economic growth.”

"The revitalization of American manufacturing will be accelerated by the strategic collaboration of government, higher education and business leaders." said Northern Illinois University President Douglas Baker. "We are grateful for the vision and leadership of Senator Durbin, Congresswoman Bustos and the many other leaders who helped make the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute a reality. We look forward to working with all the DMDII partners to facilitate meaningful outcomes for our region, our state and our country."

The Digital Lab seeks to establish a common “digital thread” to the entire manufacturing process, from initial concept to system retirement, so that each stage can be accomplished in less time and for less cost. It will help the U.S. regain its dominance in manufacturing by using digital technology to lower production costs, make it easier for small manufacturers to use cutting edge technology, and create high-wage, high-skilled jobs for American workers.

World-class partners from across the country – including General Electric, John Deere, Caterpillar, and Boeing – will work to improve manufacturing efficiency to create new opportunities for businesses and workers, while schools like University of Illinois and Northern Illinois University will equip workers and researchers with the tools they need to revolutionize the manufacturing industry.

Rockford is home to a strong aerospace manufacturing industry with many ties to defense manufacturing. By locating the Digital Lab in Illinois, defense companies, contractors, and manufacturers – even those that are not official partners – will be looking to our state for innovation, development and growth.