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US Manufacturing Is Ready for a Comeback

Michelle O'Neill

A top official from the US Economic Development Administration says the rust belt is ready to be revitalized. Jay Williams, the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development, gave the keynote address this morning at Augustana College in Rock Island. He spoke at the 2nd annual economic summit hosted by 17th District Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, entitled Partnering for Illinois' Manufacturing Future.

Williams, a native of Youngstown, Ohio says over the years, many have sounded the "death knell of US manufacturing." But they didn't understand the determination of Midwest manufacturing communities, such as the Quad Cities, Peoria, and Rockford. 
Higher education, business, and governments in Illinois have already learned to collaborate and speak with one voice. Williams' prime example is the new "Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute," known as the Digital Lab, based in Chicago. Last winter, the Defense Department awarded the state 70 million dollars to establish the lab -- a public private partnership spearheaded by the University of Illinois. 

Credit Michelle O'Neill / WVIK News
Jay Williams from the US EDA

It's a collaboration of 73 organizations, including the Quad City Manufacturing Lab on Arsenal Island.

Williams talks about the DOD's investment in manufacturing in the Quad Cities area.

After Williams spoke, a panel of industry and academic experts discussed how companies, schools, and municipalities can participate in research and development, the creation of new manufacturing processess and products, plus other initiatives to create jobs and attract business to Illinois. 

Officially, Michelle's title is WVIK News Editor which really just means she wears many hats, doing everything there is to do in the newsroom and around the radio station. She's a multimedia journalist and serves as Assignment Editor, reporter, radio news producer, copy editor, announcer, news anchor/host, and photographer. She also writes and produces content for WVIK.org and social media and trains interns.