CHICAGO - Governor Rod Blagojevich announced today the Quaker Oats Company will receive a $375,000 Opportunity Returns grant to relocate its pancake mix production from Lincoln, Nebraska to Danville. This expansion project is expected to retain 25 full-time jobs for the East Central region. Quaker will also receive a $12,500 Employer Training Investment Program (ETIP) grant for employee technology training. These grants are part of Opportunity Returns, Governor Blagojevich’s comprehensive, pro-active plan for restoring economic opportunity to the East Central region.
"Opportunity Returns is critical to our state's economic future," said Governor Blagojevich. "If we are going to continue attracting new companies and investments and bringing good jobs into Illinois, we need the resources to make our state as attractive as possible. This is just one example of how Opportunity Returns is making a tangible difference for people and for families in Danville and across the state."
The $375,000 grant will come from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, which provides funds to encourage large companies to locate facilities in Illinois and existing Illinois companies to expand. This Opportunity Returns grant, which leverages more than $3.5 million in company investment, will be used to purchase equipment and upgrade facilities. The $12,500 ETIP grant will help train new employees in the production line's new technologies.
"We appreciate the support Illinois has provided to the investments in our plant," said Pat Burke, Director of Operations -- Foods. "These Opportunity Returns grants are important components we leverage to enhance our productivity and competitiveness. These programs not only help us with our infrastructure, but also provide significant resources to improve our workforce. For more than 100 years, Quaker has been a part of Illinois, and we look forward to continuing that strong tradition in the years to come."
The Quaker Oats Company, headquartered in Chicago, is a unit of PepsiCo, Inc., one of the world's largest consumer packaged goods companies. Quaker's brands include Quaker Oatmeal, Cap'n Crunch and Life cereals, Rice-A-Roni and Near East side dishes, Chewy Granola Bars and Aunt Jemima pancake mixes and syrups.
"Governor Blagojevich understands that a great way to keep growing our economy is by encouraging Illinois companies to expand. We are so pleased Quaker is making such a strong commitment to Danville and our local economy. Opportunity Returns is all about forging innovative public-private partnerships that help us reach our economic potential, and this investment certainly fits this criteria," State Rep. William Black (D-Danville) said.
"A national company like Quaker has many options when it comes to expansion and relocation. With so many choices available, Opportunity Returns makes all the difference in the world. It makes it possible for us to successfully compete for companies like Quaker, and we're excited about this major expansion in Danville. Governor Blagojevich will continue investing in companies that invest in Illinois," said Jack Lavin, Director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.
The Opportunity Returns regional economic development plan is the most aggressive, comprehensive approach to creating jobs in Illinois’ history. Since a one-size-fits-all approach to economic development just doesn’t work, the Governor has divided the state into 10 regions – finding areas with common economic strengths and needs, and developing a plan with specific actions for each region. This grassroots effort is a product of significant outreach over several months with business, civic and labor leaders, and elected officials. Opportunity Returns contains tangible actions to make each region more accessible, more marketable, more entrepreneurial and more attractive to business.