Cook County Awarded U.S. Department of Defense Grant as Part of UIC-Led Consortium

Cook County – Cook County Government was recently awarded a $675,000 U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) grant as part of a UIC-Led Consortium. Cook County is a leading member of the Illinois Defense Manufacturing Consortium (ILDMC) which will receive $5M over five years.

The Defense Manufacturing Community Support Program makes long-term investments in local communities like Northeastern Illinois to support and strengthen innovation among manufacturers and expand the capabilities of the workforce needed for the defense manufacturing supply chain of the future.  

“This award underscores the significance of the region’s manufacturing sector to the national economy and provides much needed resources to support this key economic sector,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. She also noted that “Cook County is grateful for the partnership with University of Illinois’ Peoria, Quad Cities, Rockford and the Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center (IMEC) for their collective and coordinated commitment to this effort.”

The U.S. Department of Defense designated Northeastern Illinois as a Defense Manufacturing Community in September 2022. This designation and award will bring a national focus and new resources to manufacturers. As a result of this grant, ILDMC will establish a national Casting, Forging, and Energy Storage Center of Excellence to address national security priorities within these industry subsectors.

“I’m pleased to see that the Department of Defense has recognized Northeastern Illinois for its capabilities as a defense manufacturing community,” said United States Senator Richard Durbin. “This well-deserved DOD grant will bring new jobs to Cook County and build up Illinois’ workforce while addressing national security priorities.”

The Chicago-Naperville-Elgin Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) ranks #1 in the nation both in terms of the number of businesses and the number of people employed directly in forging and stamping. The Chicago region ranks #2 in castings. Casting is an engineering manufacturing process generally used for mass production in which materials in a molten state are poured into a mold where they solidify.

Cook County will offer Modernization Vouchers to support casting and forging manufacturers within Cook County investing in process improvements. The program will reimburse 50% of a manufacturer’s investment to improve productivity and competitiveness. Cook County’s $5M Manufacturing Reinvented program serves as a model for the forthcoming Modernization Voucher program.   

Cook County will also use funds from the DOD grant to ensure dedicated program staff capacity, and to provide for America Makes‘ and IMEC’s expert consulting services in relation to these improvement and modernization investments in our local casting and forging firms.

Northeastern Illinois was one of six communities nationally designated and selected for this five-year grant by the U.S. Department of Defense.


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