Governor Pat Quinn today announced that the federally-funded Advantage Illinois program launched less than two years ago has helped scores of companies create nearly 2,000 jobs by providing Illinois entrepreneurs with the access to capital necessary to expand their businesses. Governor Quinn made the announcement at the corporate headquarters of AllCell Technologies LLC on Chicago's Southwest Side, a small manufacturer in the green economy that has more than tripled its workforce since participating in the launch of the program in October 2011. Spurring job creation through access to capital is part of Governor Quinn's agenda to drive the Illinois economy forward.
"Small businesses are putting people to work, but they need the access to bank loans and lines of credit to grow," Governor Quinn said. "Advantage Illinois is an important tool in helping bright, innovative entrepreneurs invest in their local communities and create jobs across our state. Illinois is home to the best workers in the world, and programs like this put more people to work - earning a paycheck and growing our economy."
Since Advantage Illinois debuted in October 2011, the state has committed $45 million in federal funds to leverage more than $336 million in private investment for 131 projects, creating 1,956 jobs in Illinois. The program, which has a total of $78 million in federal funds, is comprised of programs to encourage institutional lending and leverage private venture capital in start-ups. The program is administered through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO).
"We have worked with 80 banks across the state to help provide businesses and entrepreneurs the loans they need to bring innovative ideas and new products to market," DCEO Director Adam Pollet said. "Small businesses are driving economic growth in our state, and we are committed to helping them find the economic tools they need to expand."
Approximately three out of every four workers in Illinois is employed by a small business, defined as companies that employ fewer than 500 workers, according to state employment data. In total, there are about 271,000 small businesses in Illinois employing nearly 3.7 million workers. In June of 2013 alone, the state added 8,500 private sector jobs according to ADP.
AllCell Technologies is a manufacturer of lithium-ion battery technologies for transportation and renewable energy applications. A private bank and DCEO provided AllCell with a $250,000 Term Loan, of which Advantage Illinois funding covered 50 percent. This loan provided AllCell with working capital to assist AllCell's need to scale up production of lithium-ion battery packs through the purchase of equipment and inventory, marketing and sales expenses and hiring of new employees.
"The Advantage Illinois financing allowed us the freedom to take on larger purchase orders so we could grow," AllCell CEO Al-Hallaj said. "There is typically a four-to-six month lead time between when we purchase raw materials for an order and when we get paid by the customers, so this type of financing is critical."
The Advantage Illinois initiative is expected to generate a minimum of at least $10 in new private lending for small and medium-sized businesses for every $1 of federal funding, resulting in around $800 million of private sector investments and loans being pumped into the Illinois economy. The program is an initiative of Governor Quinn's Illinois Innovation Council, which is working to identify and advance strategies that accelerate innovation, economic growth and job creation. Comprised of representatives from the state's leading research universities, federal labs and some of the most innovative corporations and entrepreneurs, the council connects public and private thought leaders to foster innovation in Illinois.
Funding for Advantage Illinois is being provided by the U.S. Treasury through the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI), which was created as part of the American Small Business Jobs Act signed into law by President Obama in 2010.
Under Governor Quinn's leadership, the state has worked relentlessly to identify companies with strong potential to bring jobs and economic growth to Illinois. The state has added 216,000 private sector jobs since January 2010, when job growth returned to Illinois following a two-year period of declines during the recession.
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