MATTOON — Coles Together has won a $150,000 state grant for its aviation and aeronautical training program for local industry.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity recently announced that Coles Together, which is an economic development organization for the Coles County area, is among the recent grant recipients from the Research in Illinois to Spur Economic Recovery (RISE) program. The announcement also included Sullivan and Pana projects.
Coles Together is part of the Business Navigator Alliance of Clark, Coles, Crawford, Edgar, Effingham and Moultrie counties that is aiming to connect manufacturers and other businesses with aerospace industry procurement and supply chain work.
"By connecting our employers with opportunities at NASA, the Air Force, and the Department of Defense, it will enhance their ability to expand production lines, retain employees, and add employees in a high-margin sector that is growing," said Angela Griffin, president of Coles Together.
Coles Together reported this summer that the new initiative will unfold in three phases, starting with an industry and workforce analysis of the six-county region. Using information from the study, the group will develop a marketing plan to educate business leaders about the opportunity and invite them to be part of a program to connect their capabilities to opportunities in the new supply chains.
The Business Navigator Alliance will then help train companies in how to acquire credentials and make the connections to do business with the federal government, facilitate corporate site visits for government procurement officials to regional businesses, and conduct site tours for companies to the NASA Glen Research Center and the Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton.
The Sullivan Chamber and Economic Development Organization will receive $40,000 for an economic recovery plan with a focus on workforce and housing. The city of Pana will receive $38,000 for an economic recovery plan focused on public and local business sector collaboration.