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Foster: New Manufacturing Lab Offers Tremendous Opportunity For Illinois

Feb 25, 2014
Press Release

Washington, DC -- Today, Congressman Bill Foster (IL-11) joined President Barack Obama and other legislators, academic and business leaders at the announcement of a public-private partnership to bring a new manufacturing institute to Chicago.  The Digital Lab for Manufacturing (Digital Lab) will grow our economy and lead to job creation in Illinois and throughout the country.  

“This is a tremendous opportunity, not just for Chicago, but for all of Illinois,” said Foster. “As a scientist and businessman, I have seen firsthand how digital manufacturing can spur growth. The Digital Lab will provide opportunities for manufacturers to develop and expand new technologies – re-invigorating manufacturing in Illinois, creating new jobs and growing our economy.”

“As someone who started a high-tech firm that provides hundreds of good manufacturing jobs in the Midwest, I know there are two ways to compete. We can race to the bottom with low wages and benefits, or we can race to the top with high skills and technology.  With the creation of the Digital Lab, Illinois is competing in a race to the top,” added Foster.

The President announced the US Department of Defense has awarded $70 million to Chicago-based UI Labs to create the Digital Lab for Manufacturing (Digital Lab).  An additional $250 million in funding will come from industry, academia, government and community partners, bringing together $320 million to build the institute.  More information on the Digital Lab is available here.

Foster has been an advocate for the lab and joined with other members of the Illinois Congressional Delegation in sending a letter of support for the proposal to Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel.  A copy of the letter can be found here.

Foster is a scientist and businessman who worked at Fermi National Laboratory for over 20 years.  Foster’s business career began at age 19 when he and his brother co-founded Electronic Theatre Controls, Inc., a company that now manufactures over half of the theater lighting equipment in the United States.

Foster’s scientific career was as a high-energy physicist and particle accelerator designer at Fermi Lab. Foster was a member of the team that discovered the top quark, the heaviest known form of matter. He also led the teams that designed and built several scientific facilities and detectors still in use today, including the Recycler Ring, the latest of Fermi Lab's giant particle accelerators.