Illinois hoping to build manufacturing on the back of research and development

Illinois has long been home to many manufacturing enterprises. However, as the Great Recession took hold and globalization pushed factories out of the country, the state has entered a rebuilding stage.

A state with a strong engineering and manufacturing history
A recent article in Crain's Chicago Business emphasized the fact that the state should align itself behind significant investments in advanced technology. In fact, there are already a number of sectors where Illinois manufacturers are thriving. Citing research from the Illinois Science and Technology Coalition, the Midwestern state excels in medical and biotechnology manufacturing, advanced materials, nanotechnology, energy storage and biomass.

There's a significant amount of research and development going on at some of the institutions in the state. For example, Northwestern University, the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois not only have strong reputations as research facilities but also contribute to the engineering and manufacturing talent pool. Private enterprises, such as Archer Daniels Midland and Abbott Laboratories, also add to a climate of innovation that has spawned new growth in advanced manufacturing.

Room for development
One of the biggest areas for growth is in drug development, Crain's wrote. The startup Naurex recently was the recipient of $90 million in funding in support of its research into treatment for depression. This underscores the state's strong reservoir of chemical engineering talent. Twenty new enterprises that grew from Northwestern University's International Institute of Nanotechnology captured the interest of venture capitalists to the tune of more than $700 million in financial support.

Strengthening existing facilities
In the food manufacturing industry, innovation is equally important. Area Development Online explained Broadview, Illinois-based Vanee Foods Company recently announced an investment of $8 million into a brand new bottling line. The new equipment will increase the rate at which the company can fill various bottles, raining in size from 8 fluid ounces to a gallon. Over a year, Vanee Foods has a manufacturing capacity of 60 million pounds, which makes a more rapid process that much more important.

"We worked closely with best-in-class equipment suppliers…to build out this line," Alex Vanee, vice president of operations, explained. "The high speed and operational flexibility of the line provide the low cost structure and customer responsiveness that Vanee Foods is known for in our other packaging formats."

With this new capability, the company will be able to solidify its existing partnerships and venture out to form new business relationships.

Manufacturing recruiters play a key role in helping Illinois bring its production and distribution capabilities back in line. In engineering and technical fields, companies often need help finding the right employee to help their operations grow.