Chicago Wins Bid for $320M Mega Manufacturing Hub

The digital lab will be the first of its kind

Chicago will be the home of a digital manufacturing institute, expected to create thousands of jobs and restore the city’s reputation as a strong competitor in the future of manufacturing.

The decision, expected to be announced by President Obama Tuesday, comes after a $70 million grant was awarded to UI Labs, making the city the official site for the national Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute organized by the Department of Defense.

The digital lab, the first of its kinds, will also be backed by $250 million in funding from state, industry, academic, government, community, and organization supporters and partners of UI Labs, more than tripling the federal investment made by the Department of Defense.

“This new Digital Lab has the potential to revolutionize the way the United States approaches manufacturing and a major effort will be centered in Illinois,” said Sen. Dick Durbin, who led the congressional effort to secure the grant. “Illinois will undoubtedly benefit from the thousands of jobs created through this research.”

Gov. Pat Quinn and Mayor Rahm Emanuel were also influential in landing the digital hub.

"My favorite words are made in America and made in Illinois, and this partnership will create high-tech manufacturing jobs across both our state and nation for years to come," Quinn said in a statement Saturday.

In his 2013 State of the Union address, President Obama proposed a series of manufacturing institutes each designed to serve as a regional hub that will build on recent manufacturing gains by bringing together innovative research with product development with the goal of making American factories smarter, faster and more efficient.

The lab, proposed for a building on Goose Island on the city’s North Side, is expected to develop “innovative solutions that transform both defense and civilian industries with hundreds of billions in annual savings,” according to Durbin.

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