Durbin Commends Announcement of a Nearly $1.8 Million Federal Grant Award to Support Development of Aerospace Industry in Rockford

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today commended the Obama Administration’s announcement $1,769,987 in federal funding for a project – designed by seven Rockford Area groups – that aims to strengthen the local aerospace industry.  The Rockford project is one of 20 winning projects awarded a total of $38 million in funding today through President Obama’s Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge which awarded funds to support a wide range of economic and workforce development activities in regions that demonstrate the existence of high-growth industries.


“This is great news for the Rockford region,” said Durbin.  “Rockford is home to an already robust aerospace industry with a long history of leading the country in manufacturing and aerospace.  Today’s funding will build on that by bringing more college graduates into the aerospace field, growing the aerospace industry through better marketing and nurturing small businesses in the Rockford area.” 


The organizations collaborating on this project include: Northern Illinois University, Rock Valley College, the Rockford Area Economic Development Council, EIGERlab, the Rockford Region Economic Development District, the Rockford Metropolitan Agency for Planning and the Workforce Investment Board.


Today’s funding was awarded by three separate agencies:


  • Economic Development Administration: $634,466 in funding to accelerate efforts to identify Rockford Area Aerospace Network research and technology projects with potential for commercialization, to accelerate the use of small and medium sized enterprise barriers to Engineer in Residence programs for focused business development projects and to develop a sustainable post?high school education infrastructure;


  • Employment and Training Administration: $985,521 in funding to provide a seamless, cost effective undergraduate matriculation from a local two?year college to a regional four year university; to promote the inclusion of under?represented undergraduate student recruitment and mentoring; and to provide cost and time effective opportunities for employees in the aerospace cluster to seamlessly obtain continuing education; and


  • Small Business Administration: $150,000 in funding to target underrepresented and economic/socially disadvantaged small businesses with a multi?session business “boot camp” program with focus on improving core competencies, financial planning, and target marketing.


The Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge leverages existing resources from 16 federal agencies and will award funds to regions that demonstrate the existence of high-growth industries that support a wide range of economic and workforce development activities.  Economies in 23 states are expected to benefit from awards to promote energy, advanced manufacturing, information technology, aerospace and clean technology sectors in rural and urban regions. An estimated 5,000 jobs will be created nationwide and more than 280 new businesses are estimated to result from this cross-cutting initiative.