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A bureau within the U.S. Department of Commerce


Press Release

Department of Commerce Grant Supports Wisconsin, Illinois Auto Industries

$6 Million Grant to University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Advances Innovation & Entrepreneurship

WASHINGTON - U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke today announced a $5.9 million U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant to the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater to administer the Auto Adjustment Entrepreneurial Support Initiative, which provides comprehensive entrepreneurial support to businesses in six regions in Southeastern Wisconsin and North-Central Illinois. "Collaborating across state lines to maximize regional resources in new and innovative ways will help create jobs in this economically-distressed region," Locke said. "This EDA grant will create jobs by supporting a seamless network of regional services and incubator facilities that will accelerate innovation and entrepreneurship, particularly in emerging green technologies and global commerce, and by providing training in high-skill, high-wage industries."

This grant is one more in a string of EDA grants to auto communities such as Fenton, Mo., and Fremont, Calif., to help in the recovery from economic hardships caused by closures and mass-layoffs by auto manufacturers and suppliers. Auto communities in Rock and Kenosha County, Wis., and Boone County, Ill., will benefit from this initiative.

"Secretary Locke and the U.S. Economic Development Administration have been stalwart supporters of America's auto communities around the country. As the members of the President's Auto Council heard on our trip to Kenosha and Janesville last week, funding for job creation and business development is the highest priority need. This grant represents a significant investment in these two communities, as well as others in the area dealing with job losses at the regions' GM and Chrysler plants or at auto suppliers. Helping to support entrepreneurs across this region represents another important step in the Administration's efforts to promote recovery and help auto workers and their families," said Ed Montgomery, executive director of the White House Council on Automotive Communities and Workers.

The initiative is part of a larger regional collaboration that will provide comprehensive entrepreneurial support at every stage of business development through the sharing of resources, facilities, curriculum, training, and collective expertise. The components of the proposed services include technical assistance, global resource development, market diversification, marketing and technology valuation, business retention programs, facilitation of foreign investments, capital needs assessment, interactive GIS mapping of business resources, rapid prototyping, and clean energy curriculum.

The summer of 2008 saw torrential rains that brought catastrophic damage in the millions of dollars to southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. The prolonged flooding conditions exacerbated the economic hardship that the 6-county region was already experiencing due to auto manufacturing plant closures and layoffs by the region's major employers. This EDA grant will help the area withstand future natural disasters and economic challenges, and will reposition the region to compete in the changing global economy.

About the U.S. Economic Development Administration (www.eda.gov): This year, the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) marks 45 years of public service, with a mission of leading the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing American regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. EDA is an agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce that partners with distressed communities throughout the United States to foster job creation, collaboration and innovation.