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April 6, 2006

Innovative Grants Prepare Tomorrow’s Workforce on the Eve of the “Olympics of Biotech” Coming to Illinois

CHICAGO – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today announced $202,000 in grants to prepare both Chicago area students and teachers in the field of biotechnology. There will be $130,000 in High Technology School-to-Work training grants awarded to the Argonne National Laboratory and Jakpan Enterprises, Inc., which will be used to prepare Illinois students, at both the high school and college level, to transition from school to high-skilled, high-paying biotech jobs, and more than $72,000 is helping 12 Chicago Public School (CPS) teachers and other teachers across the state attend the Biotechnology Institute’s "Teacher-Leader" professional development program to gain content knowledge and strategies to incorporate biotechnology into their classrooms. The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) are administering the grants.

"The High Technology School-to-Work and the Teacher-Leader programs are preparing Illinois’ workforce of tomorrow for high-wage, high-skill jobs that require advanced technical training. By opening these doors for our students and preparing them for careers in such a critical field, we are going to remain competitive and keep these jobs in Illinois. This is an important investment in both our students and our economic future," said Gov. Blagojevich.

"The Chicago Public Schools are committed to preparing our students for the jobs of the 21st Century, and many of those jobs will be in biotechnology," said Mayor Richard M. Daley. "Through this innovative program, our teachers and students will gain a greater understanding of biotechnology and its possibilities. I want to thank Gov. Blagojevich for making this investment in our children’s future."

The Biotechnology Institute’s National Teacher-Leader Program builds a network of teachers who are dedicated advisors, committed to teaching biotechnology to students and serve as a resource for other teachers. As part of the program, the teachers attend field trips to local biotech industry sites, interact with panels, speakers, and leaders of the industry on key issues in biotechnology, and develop skills, content knowledge, and strategies to incorporate biotechnology into the classroom.

The High Technology School-to-Work Program provides grants to consortia of high technology businesses and local schools. Projects are designed by partnerships among employers, associations and schools to provide youth with work experience in high technology occupations, combined with closely related classroom instruction. These programs allow students to explore careers in fields such as biotechnology, engineering, agriculture, electronics, medical technology and advanced manufacturing.

As part of its ongoing affiliation with the High Technology School-to-Work Program, Argonne National Laboratory, in partnership with Chicago Public Schools (CPS), is receiving a $70,000 grant to train 30 CPS high school sophomore and juniors in scientific research with an emphasis in chemistry and the life sciences. The program is designed to give students a vision of what their future would look like if they pursued a research career. The students will be taken to Argonne for six weeks beginning July 2006, where they will be given an education research assignment and all of the advanced laboratory resources and instruments needed to accomplish their projects. Argonne has received $340,000 through the program over the last several years.

"We are very pleased to continue our partnership with CPS and are grateful to Gov. Blagojevich for the opportunity to be a part of the High Technology School-to-Work Program. We are teaching students through a practical, interactive learning process and exposing them to important career opportunities," Deon Ettinger, Program Leader, Argonne National Laboratory, said.

JakPan Enterprises, in partnership with Truman College, Project Muse and New Concepts Tutor/Mentor Connection, will offer an eight-week food safety program beginning in June 2006 thanks to a $60,000 grant. The emphasis of the program will be to provide Chicago-area students with an introductory summer, college-level course in food biology and safety and allied business experience in food safety. The program will include a six-week course and five workforce skill sessions followed by job shadowing in a food production or distribution facility or in a retail food business. This will be the first college-level science course for most of the 35 students.

"Gov. Blagojevich’s High Technology School-to-Work Program helps to create a future workforce that will serve the growing biotech field for years to come. We are thrilled to be working with Truman College to provide its students a gateway into careers in the ever-important fields of biotechnology and life sciences," Harold Triche, President, Jakpan Enterprises Enterprises, Inc., said.

As further evidence of the Governor’s strong support of the biotech industry in Illinois, the State, in partnership with the City of Chicago, will host BIO 2006 from April 9-12th. This is the first time that this prestigious life sciences conference will be held in the Midwest. At BIO 2006, Illinois will demonstrate that it is Putting Science to Work – the theme of this year’s Illinois Pavillion – by emphasizing the state’s unmatched university and research institutions, world-class infrastructure, diversified workplace, aggressive government support and its innovative Illinois companies. In 2005, Business Facilities Magazine ranked Illinois the top state in the nation for biotech growth.

"Scientists are using biotechnology to try and find solutions to everything from cancer and Alzheimer’s to safer food for our children. This research is cleaning our air and fighting crime. We are also putting science to work in Illinois by taking discoveries and turning them into new companies, marketable products and high-paying, high-tech Illinois jobs. Our state has been recognized as a national leader in this emerging science, and BIO 2006 is going to help us achieve things we haven’t even thought of yet. This is a rare opportunity to import ideas, create companies and jobs in Illinois that will leave a lasting impact on our state long after our guests go home on April 12th," Gov. Blagojevich said.

Companies interested in registering for the BIO 2006 Convention should call John Conrad at 312/201.4514 or log onto http://www.bio.org/events/2006/reg/

"The biotech industry has a profound impact on the state’s economy, generating thousands of jobs for people across Illinois. These High Technology School-to-Work grants and the Teacher-Leader program help educate our future biotechnology workforce at all levels," State Rep. Arthur Turner (D-Chicago) said.

"These are more examples of how Gov. Blagojevich is making the kinds of smart investments that matter most to the economic vitality of our state – and to the future of our youth. Illinois has established itself as an international biotech hub and will continue to compete for high-tech business investment based on the skills of our people. Increasing the number of trained students pursuing biotech careers will impact the economic strength of the entire region and provide our workforce with higher-paying, cutting-edge jobs," DCEO Director Jack Lavin said.

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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