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U.S. House bill would create regional manufacturing hubs

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WASHINGTON – A bipartisan bill introduced Wednesday in Congress would boost cities that are part of a federal program to invest in manufacturing, including Peoria, and create manufacturing hubs across the country, U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos announced.  

Bustos, the East Moline Democrat whose 17th District includes much of Peoria and Peoria County, is one of seven representatives to sponsor the bill, which would create a permanent program to competitively award regions that have the “Manufacturing Community” designation from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

The Greater Peoria Economic Development Council, which represents five central Illinois counties, is the U.S. EDA partner for Peoria’s designation as a Manufacturing Community. There are only 24 in the country.

“My Congressional district is home to what I like to call a manufacturing triangle; with Peoria, Rockford, the Quad Cities, and the many communities in between, we have so much potential to grow the manufacturing industry in our region,” Bustos said. “This legislation will open new doors for other communities in our region to compete for the ‘Manufacturing Community’ designation, giving them the tools and resources they need to create jobs and grow their workforce.”

According to the EDA, the Greater Peoria Economic Development Council is working to strengthen the region’s manufacturing industry and the earthmoving sector in particular. Peoria is home to manufacturing giant Caterpillar Inc.

The EDA said 15 percent of workers in the Peoria region are employed in manufacturing, and 70 percent of the area’s manufacturing jobs are in the earthmoving industry.

To further grow the manufacturing industry, the new House bill give selected communities preferred consideration when applying for up to $1.3 billion in currently available federal economic development funding for manufacturing. This legislation also encourages a collaborative, regionally driven approach to strengthening the manufacturing industry.

In order to earn the Manufacturing Community designation, communities must demonstrate the significance of manufacturing in their region and develop strategies to utilize their designation in making investments in six areas:

  • Workforce training and retraining;
  • Advanced research;
  • Infrastructure and site development;
  • Supply chain support;
  • Promotion of exports and foreign direct investment; and
  • Operational improvement and capital access for manufacturers that supports energy or process efficiency, equipment or facility upgrades, the development of business incubators, among other activities.

This proposal will make the existing program permanent, allowing existing communities the opportunity to continue to implement their manufacturing strategies, and allowing new communities the opportunity to receive a designation.