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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 9, 2006

GOV. BLAGOJEVICH ANNOUNCES A $500,000 WORKFORCE TRAINING GRANT TO ENHANCE THE SKILLS OF 2,200 EMPLOYEES AT CATERPILLAR SUPPLIERS ACROSS ILLINOIS
350 Illinois Companies Will Become More Efficient and Effective Through Innovative Training Program

CHICAGOGov. Rod R. Blagojevich today announced the awarding of a $500,000 workforce training grant to Caterpillar Inc. as a part of his pro-active, comprehensive economic development strategy designed to spur economic growth and create jobs across the North Central region and throughout Illinois. The grant is being awarded through the Employer Training Investment Program (ETIP) and will be used to upgrade the skills of 2,200 workers at hundreds of the company’s suppliers across Illinois.

"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. To do this, we must partner with world-class companies like Caterpillar and its hundreds of suppliers so they can continue to grow and prosper. These investments are helping companies, both large and small, increase their productivity and competitiveness, and, ultimately, positioning the region and the state for continued job growth today and tomorrow," Gov. Blagojevich said.

Caterpillar is committed to seeking continual process improvement in all areas of its business, including the development of new technologies, new processes, product improvements and employee training.  These factors, along with an enterprise-wide teamwork approach to providing customer solutions, have made this Illinois-based company a recognized global leader.  This commitment to excellence is also transferred to Caterpillar’s suppliers; so Caterpillar is using the $500,000 multi-company Employer Training Investment Program (ETIP) training grant to train employees at its suppliers in skills such as design, assembly, print reading, casting and forging, statistics and computer training.  The grant is being used to train 2,200 employees from 350 of Caterpillar’s preferred suppliers.    

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.

"Gov. Blagojevich and I understand that a strong workforce makes for a strong company. This grant to Caterpillar is unique because it will benefit both this innovative company and 2,200 individuals that work at its suppliers across Illinois. By providing a better-trained and more competitive workforce, we are ensuring that large and smaller companies have a workforce that can excel in this ultra-competitive economy. These kinds of initiatives are vital to the economic development of our region and our state," State Senator George Shadid (D-Pekin) said

"Gov. Blagojevich understands that the best investment the state can make is in our workforce. By linking workforce development with economic development, the Governor is partnering with Caterpillar and its strong supplier network to become even more efficient and effective," Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis said.

"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, such as Caterpillar and hundreds of its smaller suppliers across Illinois, 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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