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March 25, 1999


SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today announced $1 million in federal funds to help small manufacturers in Illinois deal with the year 2000 computer bug.

The Manufacturing Extension Partnership grant is part of a cooperative effort that includes the US Small Business Administration and the Illinois Cooperative Extension Service.

"As we approach the year 2000, we must ensure that Illinois businesses will be prepared for the Y2K bug," Ryan said. "These federal funds will provide manufacturers, farmers and other industries with self-help tools, workshops and on-site assistance to identify their Y2K problems and develop plans to deal with them."

The National Institute of Standards and Technology is making this award to the Illinois Manufacturing Extension Center and the Chicago Manufacturing Center. These two centers, which are part of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs Manufacturing Extension Program, will work with the DCCA and the Cooperative Extension Service to provide self-help tools and workshops for non-manufacturing small businesses and farmers throughout the state.

Businesses interested in receiving more information on Y2K programs can contact the Chicago Manufacturing Center at 773-265-2020. or the Illinois Manufacturing Extension Center 888-806-IMEC (888-806-4632).

During his announcement, the Governor also called upon DCCA and the Illinois Coalition to develop a "Technology and Jobs Agenda" for the state.

The "Technology and Jobs Agenda" is designed to provide a clear and comprehensive strategy to place Illinois at the forefront of technology. The "Technology and Jobs Agenda" will emphasize Illinois' existing technology resources and stimulate growth.

"The technology industry is one of the fastest growing segments of our economy," Ryan said. "My administration recognizes the importance of technology to the economy. We are doing everything we can to encourage business formation and competitiveness through technology."

DCCA and the Illinois Coalition will work in partnership to write the "Technology and Jobs Agenda." Acting DCCA Director Pam McDonough and Illinois Coalition Chairman Stephen C. Mitchell will co-chair the panel that develops the comprehensive strategy. The full panel will be announced next month.

"It makes sense for the state to help small business owners address the technological challenges they face," McDonough said. "For every dollar invested in technology assistance, we see a return of $20 in increased productivity."

"We commend Governor Ryan for his leadership, vision and action in preparing Illinois for the 21st Century," said Mitchell. "In the next century, technology will be the engine of Illinois economic growth. Governor Ryan's plan for this state recognizes the importance of science and technology and it positions our state to be competitive in the global economy."

The report is expected to be completed in mid-October.


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