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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 30, 2005

GOV. BLAGOJEVICH ANNOUNCES A NEARLY $300,000 WORKFORCE TRAINING GRANT TO ENHANCE THE SKILLS OF ALMOST 1,100 EMPLOYEES AT ROCKFORD PACKAGING COMPANY

CHICAGOGov. Rod R. Blagojevich today announced the awarding of a $283,500 workforce training grant to Anderson Packaging Inc. in Rockford as a part of Opportunity Returns, the Governor’s pro-active, comprehensive economic development strategy designed to spur the economy and create jobs across the Northern Stateline region. The grant is being awarded through the Employer Training Investment Program (ETIP) and will be used to upgrade the skills of nearly 1,100 workers at the company’s Rockford facility.

"There’s no greater resource for any business than its workforce, and there’s no greater key to promoting sustained economic growth throughout the state than to invest in the skills of our workforce and ensure it remains second to none. Grants like this one to Anderson Packaging are helping companies increase their productivity and competitiveness, and, ultimately, positioning the Rock River Valley for continued job growth today and tomorrow," Gov. Blagojevich said.

The grant funding will train 145 new workers and 945 current employees at Anderson Packaging. The Employer Training Investment Program (ETIP) is a new generation of employer-focused, customized training grants created through the "21st Century Jobs" Training Initiative. The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) administers the ETIP grants, which reimburse companies and organizations for up to 50 percent of the costs of training their employees. The training at Anderson, which will range from safety to chemical lab procedures to standard operating practices, will allow the company to remain cost competitive in the pharmaceutical packaging industry and develop a trained workforce to meet both FDA and customer requirements.

"Gov. Blagojevich and I understand that a strong workforce makes for a strong company. This grant to Anderson Packaging will allow for the training of nearly 1,100 individuals, which helps the company by providing a better-trained staff and people who really need jobs at the same time. These kinds of initiatives are vital to the economic development of our region," State Rep. Charles Jefferson (D-Rockford) said

Through Opportunity Returns, companies throughout the Northern Stateline region have received nearly $1.9 million allowing more than 13,000 workers to receive skills training.

"We appreciate the Governor's support by the awarding of this significant training grant. These funds will assist us in enhancing our competitive advantage in the pharmaceutical packaging marketplace and will help us to continue with technology, leadership and compliance training for our associates that enables us to grow and create new jobs," said Vicky Brown, Director of Training at Anderson Packaging.

"One of Gov. Blagojevich’s earliest priorities was to utilize the state’s workforce programs to act as a better partner to business, dedicate the needed resources to train workers in cutting edge technologies and deliver those resources on demand. The ETIP program embodies each of these principles and continues to serve as an enormous resource for companies, like Anderson Packaging, in helping them increase their flexibility, efficiency and competitiveness in today’s global economy," DCEO Director Jack Lavin said.

Gov. Blagojevich’s Opportunity Returns regional economic development strategy 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 – each with a regional team that is empowered and expected to rapidly respond to opportunities and challenges. Opportunity Returns is about tangible, specific actions to make each region more accessible, more marketable, more entrepreneurial and more attractive to businesses. It is about upgrading the skills of the local workforce, increasing the access to capital, opening new markets, improving infrastructure, and creating and retaining jobs. Opportunity Returns is about successfully partnering with companies and communities, both large and small, to help all of Illinois reach its economic potential.



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