Illinois has a unique opportunity to raise its visibility as a world-class technology leader. In 2005, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will select a research organization to build, manage, and operate a $1 billion Rare Isotope Accelerator (RIA) facility. Argonne National Laboratory, in conjunction with the University of Chicago and with the support of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, is a top contender to win the project.
Besides providing a glimpse into the history of the universe, rare isotopes have practical applications in medicine, national security, detection technology, biology, toxicology, environmental science, and other fields. Worldwide, the study of rare isotopes is rapidly advancing, and the U.S. maintains its world leadership position in nuclear physics because of its second-to-none RIA facilities.
In addition to solidifying Illinois' reputation as a center of technology, research, and innovation the RIA facility will:
- Create 16,000 construction jobs over the eight-year construction period.
- Support 400 new jobs on an annual operating budget of $70 million.
- Contribute $110 million to the state's economy.
- Add $40 million each year in new personal income for Illinois residents.
- Draw brainpower from around the world, making Illinois a technological magnet for leading scientists.
- Encourage partnerships between research institutions like the University of Illinois, Northwestern University, Southern Illinois University, and Northern Illinois University.
- Attract other premier science projects to the state, making revenue and job opportunity in the technology industry a driving force behind Illinois job growth.
The University of Chicago and Argonne will compete against Michigan State University to host the RIA facility. In comparison to MSU, Argonne offers the following advantages:
- The U.S. Department of Energy would realize $100 million in cost savings because Argonne already has the existing infrastructure needed to house and manage the RIA facility.
- Argonne has experienced staff members and a top-notch training facility, including a waste management department, fire and emergency team, and nuclear facility operations and maintenance expertise.
- Argonne is situated in a prime location and is surrounded by many of the country's leading research institutions.
Selecting Argonne and the University of Chicago is the obvious choice. The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Development is taking the right steps, such as creating a public/private advisory group, to bring the RIA facility to Illinois. Gov. Blagojevich has wisely recruited former Gov. James Thompson and former Secretary of the United States Department of Commerce Bill Daley to lead the effort to present Illinois as the best location for the federal government's investment of our tax dollars.
It's equally important for Illinois business leaders to educate themselves and generate awareness of this important opportunity. Illinois' reputation as a center for technological innovation and the state's economic growth is at stake. Investing in technology is important for the future of Illinois. IBI