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May 24, 2005

State Hosts First in a Series of Forums to Grow Illinois’ Homeland Security Businesses; Team Public-Private Resources to Meet New Market Demand

CHICAGO – Delivering on his commitment to build the state’s economy by growing the homeland security industry, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today announced the first in a series of homeland security business forums that will be held statewide to identify market opportunities to grow and support Illinois’ businesses. The first forum is being staged in partnership with the Illinois Center for Food Safety and Technology on Monday, June 27th, at the Marriott in Burr Ridge. Experts in food security and homeland defense will highlight current and emerging needs for products, as well as strategies to protect our food supply. They will also review what Illinois has done to establish itself as a national leader in homeland security, discuss factors currently inhibiting homeland defense and explore solutions that are being developed by inventors, entrepreneurs and large companies. Attendees will learn about the demand for products in this growing industry and opportunities for putting innovative Illinois companies and market forces to work to address homeland security needs, stimulate the economy and create jobs throughout the state.

"As part of Illinois’ ongoing efforts to protect the people in our state, nation and world, I’m committed to leveraging both the public and private sectors to meet today’s security-conscious market demands. By teaming our resources, we can meet urgent homeland defense needs, attract new investment to Illinois and assist our businesses as they provide cutting-edge products and services to markets worldwide," Gov. Blagojevich said. "The food security forum will bring key issues to the forefront that will further protect our food supply, stimulate the economy and create jobs."

Attendees will learn from national and state leaders and experts, including Bradley Tusk, Deputy Governor for the State of Illinois, Col. Randall Larsen, a nationally recognized expert who is the Director for The Institute for Homeland Security, Dr. Martin Cole, Director of the National Center for Food Safety and Technology, representatives from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Matthew Botos, Director of the Illinois Center for Food Safety and Technology. Other experts include Geoff Dahl, Director of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Food Security Initiative, Weysan Dun, Special Agent in Charge, FBI-Springfield and Dr. Colleen M. O'Keefe, Division Manager for Food Safety and Animal Protection at the Illinois Department of Agriculture. Security experts from Illinois businesses such as ADM, Deere & Company and Caterpillar will discuss the technologies and solutions being sought by the private sector to ensure greater security in our food supply.

Food producers, businesses in the food supply chain, distributors and companies that protect our nation’s food supply are invited to attend as each sector will learn new ways to compete in today’s security-conscious world. To learn more about the conference or to RSVP, visit www.hsmd.illinois.gov.

"Gov. Blagojevich continues to build bridges between the public and private sector to keep Illinois safe. By supporting businesses that want to serve this market, we’re offering state assistance to help them grow. The food security forum will prove to be a great resource for existing Illinois businesses to learn more about homeland security, which will lead to innovation and new investment, and, ultimately, job creation," Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) Director Jack Lavin said.

Gov. Blagojevich highlighted his efforts to grow the homeland security industry in Illinois in his annual State of the State address, and the homeland security forums will provide an important venue to nurture this industry. Recently, DCEO opened the Bureau of Homeland Security Market Development. To contact the Homeland Security Market Development Bureau, please e-mail mbrody@ildceo.net.

The Illinois Center for Food Safety and Technology (ICFST) works to improve the economic vitality of Illinois food companies by minimizing food safety risk and providing a skilled and adaptive workforce. ICFST provides ongoing food safety and security education, training, communications and professional development programs and maintains a development facility for food companies throughout Illinois to test new processes and equipment, develop products and learn the latest operating techniques. The Center offers training classes and materials, including Food Security and Risk Assessment, HACCP, GMP, GMO and Food Law and Regulation to address the full range of food safety and security need of Illinois 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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