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U of I Participates in Regional Economic Development Summit

MASCOUTAH – The University of Illinois participated in a regional economic development summit today at MidAmerica Airport with U.S. Rep. Bill Enyart (IL-12), U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Southern Illinois manufacturing stakeholders.  The University is committed to enhancing partnerships that support the region’s broader economic development strategy.

“Today’s summit was an overwhelmingly productive collaboration across the board,” Enyart said.  “I wanted to bring these key players together in a format to ultimately produce real results and tangible progress in Southern Illinois’ manufacturing sector.  And we did just that.”

The economic development summit was hosted by Enyart and brought together leaders from the University of Illinois, Southern Illinois University, the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute, Southwestern Illinois College, Southwestern Illinois Leadership Council, Boeing, and more.

“Revitalizing Illinois’ economy is a priority for the University and one of our core missions. We stand ready to collaborate with industry, government, and academic institutions throughout Southern Illinois to increase manufacturing competitiveness and help drive progress and economic growth for the region,” University of Illinois President Robert Easter said.

The summit was designed to begin collaborative discussions and action from key stakeholders in Southern Illinois’ manufacturing sector.  Leaders participated in a networking welcome session and Boeing facility tour in the morning.  During a working lunch, two discussion groups convened to discuss opportunities for partnership and collaboration among universities, private companies and the public sector.  Enyart facilitated the discussions and focused on tangible, deliverable benefits to Southern Illinois.

“During the discussion group sessions, we discussed the various ways each entity will work together in the days and weeks to come, in order to better serve Southern Illinois’ economy,” said Enyart.  “All the while – the individuals from today’s summit will return home with tangible plans in place to continue the widespread work of the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute.”

“The Digital Lab has the potential to revolutionize the way the United States approaches manufacturing.  And that next generation of manufacturing will be based in Illinois,” Durbin said.  “Partners from across the state in business and education will be at the forefront of innovative, industry-driven research that will make America more competitive on the global stage.  I fought to bring the Lab to Illinois and I look forward to the jobs and economic growth it will generate throughout the entire state.  I thank Congressman Enyart for convening today’s manufacturing summit and fostering the collaboration needed to grow manufacturing in Southern Illinois and the Metro East area.”

“The University of Illinois thanks Representative Enyart for his leadership in convening today’s economic strategy summit,” said President Easter.  "We are also grateful to Senator Durbin for his efforts to advance the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute—an important victory for our entire state that would not have been possible without him.”


The Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute is based in Chicago. The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) awarded $70 million to the UI LABS-led consortium of academia, industry, government, and community partners to create the digital lab. The DoD grantis leveraged by partner commitments of $250 million, forming a $320 million institute. Working with the key stakeholders, the institute will develop, demonstrate, and transition digital manufacturing technologies and deploy and commercialize these technologies across key manufacturing industries.

The University of Illinois is a world leader in research and discovery and is the largest educational institution in the state with more than 78,000 students, 23,000 faculty and staff, and campuses in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield.