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May 3, 2005

Valley Industrial Association’s Ongoing Efforts to Upgrade Worker Skills Highlighted

NORTH AURORA – Continuing to deliver on his Opportunity Returns commitment to upgrading the skills of the regional workforce, Gov. Rod Blagojevich today announced that Valley Industrial Association has received a $880,000 grant to assist with training costs of its member companies.  At least 2,600 employees at 65 companies throughout Kane, Kendall, DeKalb and DuPage counties will benefit from the grant.  Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) Director Jack Lavin made the announcement today in North Aurora at DACO, Inc., one of the companies receiving training through this grant.
“There are no better investments the state can make than to invest in advancing the skills of the Illinois workforce.  By keeping the Illinois workforce strong, we help make Illinois businesses more efficient and effective,” said Gov. Blagojevich.  “We’re seeing marked improvement in our state’s economy, and it’s the continued investments into our workforce that is making the Northeast Illinois economy and business community even stronger.”
The $880,000 grant is provided through the Employer Training Investment Program (ETIP) that is part of Gov. Blagojevich’s “21st Century Jobs Initiative” to upgrade the skills of local workers to maintain the productivity needed in the new global economy.  With this grant, Valley Industrial Association will oversee training for business modernization, competitiveness, total quality management (TQM) and other workplace improvements for 65 companies throughout Northeast Illinois.  Training will include courses on computers, ISO 9000, quality and technical/workplace skills, safety and industrial improvement, as well as modernization.
“We appreciate Gov. Blagojevich’s continued investments in the manufacturing workforce of Illinois because we’re advancing the skills of thousands of workers.  This training grant inspires small and medium-sized companies to educate their employees and build a stronger, skilled and talented workforce,” said Colleen M. Ruddy, President of Valley Industrial Association.  “Through the Employer Training Investment Program, the Governor is creating a workforce for keeping and attracting new manufacturers to the Illinois.”
With the state’s support at least 65 companies will upgrade their employee’s skills; just a few of the companies that will benefit from Valley Industrial Association’s employee training services include:
North Aurora-based DACO, Inc. manufactures diesel engine and drive train components for several Illinois-based heavy equipment companies.  The family-owned company has participated in Valley Industrial Association training programs since 2000 as it upgrades the skills of its employees to use state-of-the-art robotic manufacturing equipment.  Employees have learned advanced programming, tool handling, and operation of robotics; software programming and use for specialty equipment; and manufacturing concepts such as SPC and Six Sigma.
FONA International, Inc. (previously known as Flavors of North America) is based in Geneva and develops and produces flavorings that are used in candies, drink mixes, cereals, microwave popcorn and baked goods throughout the retail and institutional food markets.  As a result of the grant, FONA International, Inc. participates in the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Certified Business Administration Program (CBA Program.), and, as a result, its students have implemented countless speed, savings, quality, culture and value improvements through their research, analysis and recommendations.
Aurora-based Successories designs, manufactures and markets high-quality products that help businesses and organizations communicate, drive and reinforce core values, motivate people to superior performance, and recognize individual and group achievements.  Gov. Blagojevich’s support has allowed the company to stretch its employee training dollars to learn new manufacturing technology, such as graphic design software that qualifies the employee to operate laser engravers used to customize award products.
TOX®-PRESSOTECHNIK, with its North American headquarters in Warrenville, is a leading manufacturer of pneumo-hydraulic cylinders, electro-mechanical servo drives, presses and sheet metal joining systems.  Through the state’s support, the company has been able to upgrade worker skills through computer training, management accounting and business condition accounting courses and an IT management program.
“Gov. Blagojevich is keeping Illinois’ companies and workforce strong, and Valley Industrial Association is at the forefront of helping west suburban companies do this by advancing employee skills necessary to stay competitive,” said State Representative Linda Chapa LaVia (D-Aurora).
"As Mayor of Aurora, I appreciate Gov. Blagojevich's commitment to Aurora businesses and companies throughout the region.  We appreciate the Governor delivering to our community, by investing in our local workforce," said Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner.
“Partners like the Valley Industrial Association are on the front lines to upgrade the skills of the Illinois workforce and strive to ensure our workforce is at the top of the list when companies think about locations with skilled and effective employees,” said DCEO Director Jack Lavin.  “Through Opportunity Returns, Gov. Blagojevich will continue to make these investments to educate employees, support job creation and keep Illinois’ business community strong.”
Valley Industrial Association (VIA) is a not-for-profit trade association that represents 235 Northeastern Illinois manufacturers and companies who serve manufacturers, and provides its members with education and training programs, industry research, networking opportunities and governmental regulation services.  VIA has a long history of providing training services throughout this region and through the past three years, VIA disbursed nearly $2.5 million in state funding to match training costs for member companies.
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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