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March 16, 2005

Illinois Companies Receive $200,000 in Grants to Support Rapid Growth in Homeland Security Sector

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS – Delivering on his commitment to build upon the homeland security industry throughout Illinois, Gov. Rod Blagojevich today announced $200,000 in Opportunity Returns grants for two companies on the verge of rapid growth.  TechAlt, Inc. and Midco Inc. will each receive a $100,000 grant to support necessary employee training and development as the companies race to meet the new demands of the homeland security industry.  Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Director Jack Lavin (DCEO) made the announcement today at Arlington Heights-based TechAlt, Inc.
“It’s important for businesses in our state to adapt and grow and, ultimately, be on the cutting edge of the demands of the global marketplace.  We made a commitment to support Illinois companies that are tapping into this new market and selling products and services to the ever-expanding homeland security industry.  Through my Opportunity Returns program, we are investing in businesses that are not only protecting the world, but striving to meet the new market demands and creating jobs and a stronger economy,” Gov. Blagojevich said. 
Gov. Blagojevich made his commitment to building Illinois’ homeland security sector at this year’s State of the State address.  Nationally, federal, state and municipal governments and private sector companies spend approximately $100 billion each year on the homeland security industry.  The two grantees announced today have been recognized for their innovative contributions to this growing industry and have received significant government and private sector contracts.  The companies will receive $200,000 in Employee Training and Investment Program (ETIP) grants to advance employee skills to support the growth of this new market.
Founded in 2002, TechAlt, Inc. has provided revolutionary solutions for secure voice, visual and data platforms for first responders.  As a result of these new solutions, the company was recently chosen to participate in several U.S. Department of Homeland Security projects, and its technologies have been used in a number of high-profile events, including the recent Presidential inauguration.  TechAlt has grown from six full-time staff to 25 since September of 2004, and expects to add another 75 employees over the next
eighteen months as it continues to win certifications from the Naval Research Labs, U.S. Secret Service, U.S. National Standards of Training Association (USNSTA) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  The $100,000 Opportunity Returns grant will help train between 30 and 50 new employees.
Meanwhile, Midco Inc. in Burr Ridge is also significantly growing in the homeland security sector.  Recently, the company has been actively installing new technology that allows for integrated communications across the range of technology platforms for secure data and voice networking.  The company also installs routers and switches necessary on physical security systems, such as cameras and door access devices, as well as network security safeguards when establishing inter-agency computer systems.  The company has 92 employees, and the $100,000 grant will support ongoing education to advance employee certification.
“Illinois companies have always adapted to the changing demands of the world, and, with Gov. Blagojevich’s support, we’re helping to expand the homeland security industry in Illinois,” said State Rep. Eileen Lyons (R-Countryside).
“These two companies are fine examples of the entrepreneurial spirit that is alive and well in Northeast Illinois.  Thanks to Gov. Blagojevich and the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, we can invest in these companies to help them grow and create good new jobs,” State Rep. Sidney Mathias (R-Arlington Heights) said.
“The business world today is a dynamic and rapidly changing environment, and it’s important to stay on the pulse of emerging markets and be able to adapt to meet the needs of the marketplace,” said DCEO Director Jack Lavin.  “And that’s exactly what Gov. Blagojevich directed in his recent State of the State speech: to engage Illinois businesses to serve the growing homeland security market.  We are creating a new team to build these businesses and provide resources to companies who are expanding in this sector.  By helping these businesses grow and reach their potential, we can create new jobs in Illinois and meet the demands of markets today and tomorrow.”
These Opportunity Returns investments were made through the Employer Training Investment Program (ETIP) that helps keep Illinois workers’ skills in pace with new technologies and business practices, which helps businesses increase productivity, reduce costs, improve quality and boost competitiveness.  ETIP grants can reimburse Illinois companies for up to 50 percent of the cost of training their employees. 
Gov. Blagojevich’s Opportunity Returns regional economic development strategy 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 – each with a regional team that is empowered and expected to rapidly respond to opportunities and challenges.  Opportunity Returns is about tangible, specific actions to make each region more accessible, more marketable, more entrepreneurial and more attractive to businesses.  It is about upgrading the skills of the local workforce, increasing the access to capital, opening new markets, improving infrastructure, and creating and retaining jobs.  Opportunity Returns is about successfully partnering with companies and communities, both large and small, to help all of Illinois reach its economic potential.


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