• State of Illinois Department of Commerce

    State of Illinois Announces $9 Million Investment in Community Navigator Program to
    Accelerate Small Business Recovery 
    With an eye toward ensuring billions of dollars in State and Federal funds reach into the communities hardest hit by the pandemic. Earlier today, Governor Pritzker joined U.S. SBA Administrator Isabel Casillas Guzman, DCEO and federal, state and city leaders to announce a $9 million investment to expand DCEO's successful Community Navigator Program at La Catedral Café in the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago.
    The Community Navigator Program is an outreach initiative leveraging community partners to help small, minority-owned, socially and economically disadvantaged, and rural businesses connect with emergency resources. Through a Hub and Spoke model, grants will fund over 100 local organizations to assist small businesses seeking economic recovery funds. Navigators offering services in every region of the state will provide 1-on-1, multilingual technical assistance to support them in understanding how to access that relief to build back stronger from the pandemic.
    Notably, the community navigators will play a key role in helping deploy funds to as many small businesses as possible with current and upcoming economic recovery programs offered by the state. This includes a record $1.5 billion economic recovery package set forth by the Governor and the General Assembly, which leverages American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to guide community, businesses, and tourism recovery – including a $300 million "Back to Business" grants program expected to launch later this month. 
    Press Release
    State of Illinois Joins Ferrara to Mark Opening of $100 Million DeKalb Distribution Complex
    Continuing on its winning streak, the State of Illinois joined Ferrara this past week to mark the opening of the company’s newest facility in Illinois. The new 1.6 million square foot facility brings a $100 million investment in the community, along with 500 local jobs, and will enhance the company’s ability to serve customers and to meet evolving consumer demands.
    Ferrara, makers of popular brands Lemonheads, Now and Later, Nerds, and dozens of others, maintains its headquarters in Chicago with thousands of employees across the state. The confectionary industry is also a major contributor to Illinois being the second largest food processing cluster in the nation—an industry target under Governor JB Pritzker’s 5-year economic growth plan, which focuses on manufacturing, food processing, and infrastructure to drive economic growth across the state.
    Ferrara is one of hundreds of companies announcing its plans to grow in Illinois last year, including several major manufacturing companies launching or growing major operations centers: Kimberly Clark, InnovaFeed, and more. With 38 HQs located across the state, Illinois has more Fortune 500 companies than any other state in the Midwest - and the highest number since 2001.  
    Press Release
    Pritzker Administration Joins The Will Group to Celebrate Opening of the K-Town Business Centre in
    North Lawndale
    This week Governor JB Pritzker and Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton joined the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity (DCEO), The Will Group (TWG), and members of the community for a ribbon cutting ceremony to highlight the completed phase one buildout on the new K-Town Business Centre in the North Lawndale neighborhood. 
    The Will Group is the recipient of a $500,000 grant from Governor Pritzker and DCEO's Office of Minority Economic Empowerment (OMEE), providing capital support to help minority-owned businesses expand. These grant funds were utilized to develop a new 60,000 SF manufacturing, distribution, and warehousing facility, with plans in place for a second phase of the project. Overall, the project will yield a $20 million investment and 100 local jobs.
    Based on the success of the program, DCEO will offer another round of OMEE grant funding later this year. Check @IllinoisDCEO or keep up with our newsletter for updates on these and other programs.
    Illinois Ranks #1 in National Sustainability Rankings
    We’re number one! On Thursday, Site Selection Magazine released its annual Sustainability Rankings with Illinois taking first place of all US states. In a sustainability index deep dive examining things like renewable energy capacity and deployment, green industry projects and investments, LEED certified projects and corporate social responsibility, Illinois came out ahead of California, Michigan, New York, and the rest of the country. 
    The state’s performance in the rankings is a testament to the Pritzker administration’s investments to expand our burgeoning electric vehicle industry, including manufacturers like Lion Electric and Rivian, as well as forward-thinking policy and timely workforce and infrastructure investments, creating the best location for sustainable economic development for decades to come.  
    Heartland Community College’s Launches First
    Electric Vehicle Degree Program 
    Normal - Heartland Community College opens first cohort of the Electrical Vehicle Degree Program to train workers for the growing Electric Vehicle (EV) industry. Advancing 21st century training, the Electric Vehicle Technology AAS degree, focuses on providing stackable credentials for in-demand occupations at companies like Rivian.
    The program is the result of the Manufacturing Training Academies initiative, announced by Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) in April, providing a $15 million investment for two downstate academies. Heartland Community College received $7.5 million in funding to help establish the Electric Vehicle-Energy Storage Manufacturing Training Academy (EVES) in Normal, IL. This program is the first step toward the broader development of the academy expected to open in 2023.  
    Applications are now open for 16 spots in the first cohort at the college.
    DCEO In the News
    Ferrara debuts massive DeKalb facility
    Firm invests $20 million in K-Town turnaround
    Chicago Sun Times
    Fast-growing logistics startup ShipBob raises $200 million
    Deadline approaching: DCEO's Office of Trade and Investment is accepting nomination applications for the Governor’s Export Awards through July 31, 2021. Nominate your favorite Illinois company or apply yourself for the state’s highest recognition of export success! 
    Learn more about the Governor’s Export Awards, state led trade missions, and other resources available through the Office of Trade and Investment.
    Red, White and BOOM!
    On the heels of a year in which many events were canceled, Independence Day festivities will feel extra special in 2021. Communities across Illinois are celebrating the 4th of July with fireworks, parades, live music, carnivals, food vendors and more! 
    From Chicago to Carbondale and everything in between, here are the top 4th of July events in every region of the state! 
    Virtual Job Fairs (VJF) are part of the GET HIRED initiative. Job seekers can find a hiring event near them, read about how to prepare for a VJF and what to expect when attending the event.
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