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L-r, Rep. Mike Smiddy, UI President Robert Easter, Rep. Pat Verschoore, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, WIU President Jack Thomas, VP of Quad Cities and Planning Joe Rives and Quad Cities Chamber Executive Vice President Paul Rumler.
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Collaboration Brings State Universities, Community Agencies Together

June 21, 2013

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MACOMB/MOLINE, IL -- Western Illinois University and the University of Illinois joined forces today (June 21), along with the Quad Cities Manufacturing Laboratory (QCML) and the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce, to further economic development and educational opportunities within the region, the state and beyond Illinois' borders. The QCML functions as a national resource for research and development of advanced materials and manufacturing technology for commercial and military applications.

Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, joined by WIU President Jack Thomas, UI President Robert Easter and QC Chamber Executive Vice President Paul Rumler, announced the new collaborations in manufacturing during an event at the WIU-QC Riverfront campus. Bustos has been a strong advocate for increasing partnerships and collaboration among the area's businesses, educational institutions and community leaders in the pursuit of jobs and economic growth.

"I am pleased to have joined today with area educational, business and community leaders to discuss ways we can all work better together to further the economic growth of our region," Bustos said. "Job creation and boosting American manufacturing are not only my top priorities, but also why I ran for Congress in the first place. I strongly believe by increasing collaboration among all those involved, and because we have some of the best workers in the world, our region's economy can stay strong for years to come."

The lab, staffed by WIU's School of Engineering faculty, works with numerous agencies, manufacturers and more to facilitate technology transfer, and also serves as a development hub for small businesses.
"Western Illinois University is pleased to collaborate with the University of Illinois and the QCML on identifying means to advance research, development and application of advanced materials and manufacturing technology for commercial and military endeavors," said WIU President Jack Thomas. "We thank Congresswoman Bustos and President Easter for taking the first steps as we explore the possibilities."

The QCML has worked with such organizations and companies as The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, the Rock Island Arsenal, Ames Laboratory, Lockheed Martin and New Tech Ceramics.

"To continue Illinois' strong job growth in manufacturing, we must make sure that companies of all sizes have access to the modeling and simulation technology that is changing the face of this industry," said University of Illinois President Robert A. Easter. "The University of Illinois is a national leader in high performance computing, which holds great promise to help both large and small companies meet their design and prototyping needs in the digital age.

"Illinois can lead the manufacturing revolution," Easter added. "I am pleased to join Congresswoman Bustos, Western Illinois University and Quad Cities industry to explore how we can work together to provide both the technology and an educated workforce to meet manufacturing challenges now and into the future."

The Quad Cities Manufacturing Laboratory, which was established in 2005, is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization headquartered at the Rock Island Arsenal.

"We are excited about the collaborative opportunities, which have local, regional and national benefits," said Joe Rives, vice president for the Quad Cities and planning at WIU. "We will continue to advance the economic development of the region and far beyond.

According to Jeff Nelson, QCML board chair, the resources available at the QCML allow businesses to take an idea for a product and turn it into a reality through modeling, simulation and prototyping. The collaboration among WIU and UI and other partners will allow for additional expertise and opportunities for businesses and industries, no matter the size, Nelson added.

"Continued innovation and growth of the Quad Cities' advanced manufacturing industry is central to the region's economic development strategy," said Paul Rumler, Quad Cities Chamber executive vice president. "To realize our region's potential, it is critical to support a collaborative ecosystem that matches manufacturing industry needs with the public research and development assets, such as Western Illinois University and the University of Illinois. Today's announcement will have a major impact on the future of the Quad Cities."

For more information on the Quad Cities Manufacturing Laboratory, visit

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