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Small Business Means Big Business, Illinois Says, as Manufacturing Plants Expand

Feb. 8, 2013
“Now is the time to take that same innovative, public-private approach to advanced manufacturing,” said Illinois Governor Pat Quinn. 

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn is on a mission. He wants to see small businesses come to his state and he wants those already there to expand.

It seems his plan is working. On Feb. 7th he announced the expansion of three companies; Vosges Haut-Chocolat, Tennant Truck Lines Inc. and Endotronix.

Together they will add 75 new jobs.

“Small business means big business,” Governor Quinn said. “These high-potential companies are examples of the innovation and diversity that make up Illinois’ manufacturing landscape. As our state continues to recover from the great recession, we must always do all we can to boost economic growth and job creation."

Approximately three out of every four workers in Illinois are employed by a small business, which is defined as companies that employ fewer than 500 workers. In total, there are about 271,000 small businesses in Illinois employing nearly 3.7 million workers.

To help these businesses grow the state of Illinois provided these companies with targeted investment packages, administered by the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO).

The packages included Advantage Illinois, a federal program that connects banks with Illinois residents to start new companies and expand existing businesses; Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) corporate income tax credit, which are based on job creation; and Employer Training Investment Program (ETIP) job training funds that will help enhance the skills of their workforces.

Launched in 2011, Advantage Illinois is a five-year program that leverages $78 million in federal funding to attract almost $800 million in private sector investments.

Vosges Haut-Chocolat, a Chicago-based chocolate maker converted an existing location  into its new corporate headquarters, test kitchen and manufacturing plant. Vosges will invest $3 million and create 35 jobs. DCEO provided an Advantage Illinois Participation Loan, EDGE tax credits and ETIP training dollars worth a total of $1.7 million. In a participation loan, DCEO purchases a portion of the bank term loan at below market interest rate.

Endotronix Inc., based in East Peoria, is developing a sensor system for patients with congestive heart failure that prevents the need for hospitalization by allowing for critical medication adjustments by phone or office visit. The Advantage Illinois’ Invest Illinois Venture Fund (IIVF) is one of several investors providing funding for Endotronix to ramp up clinical trials to test the efficacy of the system. Central Illinois Angels is the lead investor.

IIVF is a new venture capital program that supports young, innovative companies  that demonstrate high growth potential. DCEO invested $400,000 to support the expansion. Endotronix is creating 10 jobs.

“IIVF's commitment to Endotronix was a tipping point for our company, allowing us to complete financing that funded our advanced engineering effort to overcome key technical challenges,” said Harry Rowland, CEO of Endotronix. “We are now on the cusp of tremendous growth and value creation.”

And Tennant Truck Lines Inc., a regional trucking firm based in Colona, is expanding adding 30 jobs.  DCEO is providing the company with Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) tax credits that is worth up to $1.1 million over 10 years. The trucking firm has committed to invest $2.1 million.

“Tennant has grown the company from 75 employees in 2009 to over 200 employees in 2013,” said Aaron Tennant, CEO of the trucking company.

In addition to these companies strengthening the manufacturing base, a new lab was created in an effort to continue the growth. In the Governor’s State of the State Union address on Feb. 6 he announced the Illinois Manufacturing Lab, a public-private approach to advanced manufacturing.

“We are investing in innovation, “Quinn said as he explained how the state had worked with Argonne National Laboratory to bring this new research facility to Illinois. “In the next five years, Argonne will lead a public-private team to create the next-generation battery – a battery that is five times cheaper and lasts five times longer than today’s batteries.”

“Now is the time to take that same innovative, public-private approach to advanced manufacturing,” Quinn added.  In the last 3 years, manufacturing has been one of our state’s leading growth sectors, creating nearly 40,000 new jobs. We’re at the cutting edge of advanced manufacturing, and we need to stay there.” 

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