A Publication of WTVP

Manufacturers assisted by the Illinois Manufacturing Extension Center (IMEC) have significantly improved performance, according to fiscal year 2001 results released by the organization. IMEC, which recently completed its fifth year of operations, was established to improve the competitiveness of the Illinois manufacturing sector, and in particular the small and mid-sized manufacturers who make up a vital, growing share of Illinois’ jobs and output.

The non-profit organization is funded in part by the National Institute of Standards and Technology-Manufacturing Extension Partnership, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs, the Illinois Board of Higher Education, and from fees for services paid by client manufacturers. More than 35 full-time manufacturing specialists are based at IMEC offices throughout Illinois.

The importance of smaller manufacturers to local economies is well documented. In addition to providing head of household jobs, smaller manufacturers are a key link in supply chains, providing component parts and products to original equipment manufacturers in sectors such as automotive, aerospace, construction equipment, and others. Ninety-eight percent of Illinois manufacturing establishments have fewer than 500 employees. Companies of this size typically have great potential, but face formidable challenges. Lacking advantages in resources, information and internal expertise, they often find it difficult to continuously improve. IMEC works with these companies to ensure they can compete and meet the challenges of an international economy.

"I have been very satisfied with IMEC," said Dennis Stoeker, president of EC Harms, a Peoria-based fabricator. "From day one their staff has been very helpful and professional. I will consider using IMEC’s assistance to aid in the future growth of my business."

IMEC has worked with Harms on several business improvement projects, resulting in significant growth in productivity and sales for the company.

Last fiscal year, IMEC helped more than 500 smaller manufacturers adopt better production techniques, bring new technologies into their production processes, implement improved business practices, and plan for the long-term futures of their companies.

Surveys completed by companies after each project reveal firms who work with IMEC can expect to see significant and measurable improvements in their performance, such as:

In total, the IMEC clients reported the $2.5 million they invested in IMEC projects is expected to result in more than $114 million of increased sales, and more than $45 million of cost savings and other benefits. For more information, call 677-3765 or visit the Web site at IBI