It was 1996. After 18 years at bat, the New York Yankees won the World Series. President Bill Clinton was re-elected. And hips swayed across the country as the Macarena hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts.
The Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center (IMEC) also entered the world in 1996 as a non-profit economic development organization. Our mission then is our mission now: to dramatically improve the competitiveness of Illinois’ small and midsize manufacturing companies.
Many people don’t realize we have a lot of siblings! IMEC is a member of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) National Network. There is a MEP Center in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, each dedicated to the success of U.S. manufacturers.
We are all part of the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology, or NIST for short.
Enough about us, though. While there may be 25 candles on our birthday cake, we invite you to blow them out with us from now until mid-December as we celebrate this milestone anniversary through the voices of those who have seen, heard, and made Illinois manufacturing the vibrant industrial sector it has become.
Walk with us as we look at manufacturing in Illinois past, present, and future through a parade of thoughtful insights, memories, and future-forward pieces in an anniversary insight series entitled “Illinois Manufacturing: 25 Years and Beyond.” We’ll be celebrating the people who have contributed to Illinois manufacturing and those visionaries inspiring the progress yet to come. People like you.
Illinois manufacturing is so many things.
Illinois manufacturing is built on the maker’s spirit. These are the men and women who had a dream to create something, starting often in their garage and going on to build great Illinois companies.
Illinois manufacturing is education. Higher educational institutions like our university partners: Bradley University, Northern Illinois University, Southern Illinois University, and University of Illinois at Chicago. They continue to build a strong and steady foundation, positioning IMEC to grow while helping to prepare the next generation workforce.
Illinois manufacturing is national. As mentioned, manufacturing is collaborative by nature. The Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) is always a ready resource–because we all need a guide by which to inspire our competitiveness and worldview.
Illinois manufacturing is local. Those city and town developers and administrators across Illinois who believe that manufacturing matters and contribute greatly to workforce development and technological progress.
Illinois manufacturing is collaboration. Organizations like the Technology and Manufacturing Association, Illinois Manufacturers’ Association, and Valley Industrial Association continue the tradition of bringing makers together for greater innovation.
I feel privileged to have a front row seat to many of the Illinois manufacturers we work with. To me, you are modern-day heroes. You’ve triumphed over global challenges and shown that endurance is rooted in action, good intentions, a can-do mindset, and in the everyday resiliency that so defines the Illinois manufacturer. Thank you for giving us the honor to serve you and to walk with you.
Here are a few key stats we are very proud to share from our 2020 Client Impact Report. IMEC’s work achieved:
- 6,176 jobs created and retained
- 19:1 return-on-investment
- 1,144 companies assisted
- $79,640 average cost savings per company assisted
- $1,565,893 average new and retained sales per client
- $646,455,900 aggregate impact to the Illinois economy
Throughout our series, we’ll be focusing on key moments in manufacturing for the past 25 years while also grabbing our vision goggles and exploring questions like: Where will we be in the innovative manufacturing model in the next 25 years? and How will manufacturing change in the age of personalization and customization?
Expect to see a variety of mediums: editorial pieces, infographics, photos, quotes, social media, emails, videos, and interviews with people who have helped shape manufacturing and those who rally for its growth in the State of Illinois, and more. Throughout the journey, we invite you to share your memories, your ideas, and your vision too.
Because makers have always led the way. In a world of accelerated change, this truth will remain. Harnessing our passion, driving results through agility, collaboration, and learning have brought us to this moment–and these attributes will be what sustains Illinois manufacturing for the next 100 years.
Thank you for being part of this milestone. We wouldn’t want to light those 25 candles without you!