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Governor Quinn Strengthens Effort to Attract and Expand Illinois Manufacturers

Press Release - Thursday, February 07, 2013

CHICAGO - February 7, 2013. As part of his commitment to drive small business growth, Governor Pat Quinn today announced new jobs at three small Illinois manufacturers. The governor is strengthening his effort to attract and expand manufacturing companies in Illinois by helping small businesses get access to capital to bridge the credit crunch and create jobs. Expansion of these businesses across Illinois today will create 75 new jobs.

The companies the governor visited today are: Vosges Haut-Chocolat in Chicago, freight firm Tennant Truck Lines Inc. in Colona and medical device maker Endotronix in Peoria.

“These high-potential companies are examples of the innovation and diversity that make up Illinois’ manufacturing landscape,” Governor Quinn said. “Small business means big business. As our state continues to recover from the great recession, we must always do all we can to boost economic growth and job creation."

Approximately three out of every four workers in Illinois are employed by a small business, according to state employment data. A small business is defined as companies that employ fewer than 500 workers. In total, there are about 271,000 small businesses in Illinois employing nearly 3.7 million workers.

The state provided the three companies with targeted investment packages, administered by the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO). The packages included Advantage Illinois, a federal program that connects banks with Illinois residents to start new companies and expand existing businesses; Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) corporate income tax credits, which are based on job creation; and Employer Training Investment Program (ETIP) job training funds that will help enhance the skills of their workforces.

Launched in 2011, Advantage Illinois is a five-year program that leverages $78 million in federal funding to attract almost $800 million in private sector investments. These investments allow businesses to bring innovative ideas and new products to market, and accelerate job creation and economic growth in Illinois.

Governor Quinn’s manufacturing jobs tour follows his State of the State address, in which he announced the Illinois Manufacturing Lab, an innovative, public-private approach to advanced manufacturing. The lab will serve as a hub for companies to learn the world’s most sophisticated tools and software, keeping Illinois at the cutting edge of advanced manufacturing.

Under Governor Quinn's leadership, DCEO is identifying and aggressively courting companies such as Vosges, Tennant and Endotronix that are looking to expand their reach. The governor has made marketing Illinois' world-class attributes abroad part of his jobs agenda, from working with local businesses to increasing their access to global markets, to personally meeting with companies to recruit them to Illinois.

Vosges Haut-Chocolat (Chicago)

The Chicago-based chocolate maker purchased a former Whole Foods bakery building in Logan Square, and converted it into its new corporate headquarters, test kitchen and manufacturing plant. The building will eventually house a chocolate museum, a retail store and a gastropub. For the first time, Vosges will fulfill CEO Katrina Markoff's "bean to bar" mission to trace the origins of its chocolate and craft it directly from the source - the cacao bean.

Vosges will invest $3 million and create 35 jobs in Illinois. DCEO provided an Advantage Illinois Participation Loan, EDGE tax credits and ETIP training dollars worth a total of $1.7 million. In a participation loan, DCEO purchases a portion of the bank term loan at below market interest rate.

“The chocolate temple will be much more than a physical address, it will be the beating heart of our endeavors and a hub of creativity for all who care to venture with us,” Katrina Markoff, CEO and founder of Vosges Haut-Chocolat said. “Working with the state, we will be able to move out of a leased facility and purchase a building that allows us to remain a home-grown Chicago business.”

Tennant Truck Lines Inc. (Colona)

The regional trucking firm built a 20,000 square foot outpost in Colona that will combine three existing facilities in the Quad Cities area. The expansion provides a modernized, central location for employees and positions the trucking firm to expand operations as the company grows. Tennant Truck Lines, founded in 1946, currently serves the Mid-Atlantic, Southeast and Midwest.

DCEO is providing Tennant Truck Lines with Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) tax credits that is worth up to $1.1 million over 10 years. The trucking firm has committed to invest $2.1 million and create 30 jobs. In keeping with the terms of EDGE, if the company doesn’t meet its job creation targets and commitments, it will not be eligible for the tax credits.

“Tennant has grown the company from 75 employees in 2009 to over 200 employees in 2013,” said Aaron Tennant, CEO of the trucking company. “Tennant Truck Lines has been able to focus on a comprehensive investment in promoting professional truck driver image and respect at a state and nationwide level along with providing a solid footprint and service offering across the Mid-Atlantic.

Endotronix Inc. (East Peoria)

Endotronix is developing a sensor system for patients with congestive heart failure that prevents the need for hospitalization by allowing for critical medication adjustments by phone or office visit. The Advantage Illinois’ Invest Illinois Venture Fund (IIVF) is one of several investors providing funding for Endotronix to ramp up clinical trials to test the efficacy of the system. Central Illinois Angels is the lead investor.

IIVF is a new venture capital program that supports young, innovative companies in our state that demonstrate high growth potential. DCEO invested $400,000 to support the expansion. Endotronix agreed to create 10 jobs.

“IIVF's commitment to Endotronix was a tipping point for our company, allowing us to complete financing that funded our advanced engineering effort to overcome key technical challenges,” said Harry Rowland, CEO of Endotronix. “We are now on the cusp of tremendous growth and value creation, as our technology can improve the quality of life for patients suffering from congestive heart failure while reducing the overall costs of care. We would not be in this position today without the visionary support of IIVF and the state's leadership in supporting the development of early stage life science companies here in Illinois.”

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