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February 9, 2004


SPRINGFIELD - Governor Rod Blagojevich today announced the awarding of three new workforce-training grants in the North Central region as a part of Opportunity Returns, the Governor’s new, regional economic development plan designed to spur the local economy and create jobs.
Two North Central manufacturing companies will receive training grants which will allow their workforce to become compliant and certified in key quality assurance standards, a requirement often set forth by prominent industrial manufacturers, such as John Deere and Caterpillar.  JM Industrial Supply, Inc., a wholesaler of hardware and mill supplies, will receive a $4,500 training grant to train all 8 of its employees.  The Pekin-based company, whose main customers include Caterpillar, John Deere, CNH, and State Farm Insurance, anticipates exceeding $3 million in annual revenue as a result of achieving the certification.  JG Fabrication, a Chenoa (McLean County) company that has been in business for over 27 years, will receive over $7,700 to certify all 9 of its employees in the same quality assurance standards.  The grants to these two small manufacturing companies are especially significant because they will provide training for the entire workforce of each business and open the gates for major increases in their bottom lines, highlighting the effectiveness of targeting resources to address employer-identified needs. 
The third workforce-training grant will go to Geo J. Rothan Co., a Peoria business that produces architectural millwork for doors, frames, and finishing hardware.  Rothan Co. will receive a training grant for $3,500 that will primarily be used to train their employees in the use of a newly purchased milling machine.  Four employees will become adept at using the machinery, which the company expects will increase production output by 40% and allow savings of up to 40% on materials.
“The Opportunity Returns plan is intended to restore economic opportunity and create new jobs by making targeted investments that will pay important dividends.  One of the surest ways to stimulate job creation is by increasing business production.  These ETIP grants are a great illustration of this plan at work in the North Central region because they will allow these companies to significantly increase their production, efficiency, and revenue,” Governor Blagojevich said.
The grants are being awarded through the Employer Training Investment Program’s (ETIP) Small/Mid-sized Company component and will be used to upgrade the skills of more than 20 employees.  ETIP is a new generation of employer-focused, customized training grants created through the “21st Century Jobs” Training
Initiative.  The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) administers the ETIP grants, which reimburse companies and organizations for up to 50 percent of the costs of training their employees.   
“We must remain committed to finding innovative ways of supporting and strengthening small and medium sized businesses that have been the lifeblood of the local economy for decades.  These ETIP grants will offer key assistance to address the training needs necessary to retain and expand companies in the region, especially those businesses that act as suppliers to larger companies,” Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Director Jack Lavin said.
Governor Blagojevich’s Opportunity Returns regional economic development plan is the most aggressive, comprehensive approach to creating jobs in Illinois’ history.  Since a one-size-fits-all approach to economic development just doesn’t work, the Governor has divided the state into 10 regions – finding areas with common economic strengths and needs, and developing a plan with specific actions for each region.  This grassroots effort for the North Central region is a product of significant outreach over several months throughout each region, with business, civic and labor leaders, and elected officials.  The more than 40 specific projects that the Governor announced in December for the North Central region are designed to be flexible and effective. Each plan is tailored to deliver real results that local businesses will see, feel, and, hopefully, profit from.


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