Durbin Discusses Illinois Manufacturing With Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey

Senator meets with Mayor Morrissey following White House summit on manufacturing, innovation, and entrepreneurship

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today met with Mayor of Rockford Larry Morrissey to discuss manufacturing initiatives and economic development in Rockford. Mayor Morrissey is in Washington, DC to attend the White House “Maker Faire,” where he presented information about the Rockford region’s aerospace cluster and manufacturing partnerships. The White House is hosting the first “Makers Faire” to meet with students, entrepreneurs and everyday citizens who are using new tools and techniques to launch businesses, learn skills in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and fuel American manufacturing. A photo of today’s meeting is available here.

“Illinois communities are at the very forefront of the American manufacturing renaissance,” Durbin said. “It is no surprise that Mayor Morrissey was invited to the White House today to share more information about the region’s vibrant aerospace cluster and growing manufacturing community, which are both driving local entrepreneurship and job growth.”

In February, Durbin announced that the Department of Defense awarded a $70 million federal grant to UI Labs to establish a Digital Manufacturing Lab, which has the potential to create thousands of jobs in advanced manufacturing fields and improve economic competitiveness. The new Digital Manufacturing Lab will have benefits throughout Illinois, and has the potential to revolutionize the way the United States approaches manufacturing. In securing the grant, UI Labs led a consortium of industry, academic, government, community and organizational supporters, including the Rockford-area partners: Bergstrom, Danfass, Ingenium, Rockford ID Shop, Schneider Electric, and Rockford Area Economic Development Council


In November, Durbin introduced legislation to invest in the next generation of American entrepreneurs and innovators by establishing a national network of fabrication laboratories, known as “fab labs.” Fab labs are small, community-based workshops that give members of the public – from students to small businesses – access to educational resources and high-tech equipment that can design, develop, and create new products. U.S. Representative Bill Foster (D-IL) has championed this legislation in the House of Representatives, where he introduced a companion measure in August.


Fab labs are independently owned and operated facilities that provide communities with the equipment, tools, and resources necessary to engage in the hands-on fabrication of objects, including the manufacturing of items that are not suitable for commercial processes.


In addition to spurring innovation, fab labs are also used by science, technology, education, and math (STEM) educators to expose students to hands-on experiences that bridge design, science, and engineering disciplines through the use of advanced technology.