News Room

2016 Central Illinois Tour

Together with the EDC of Decatur & Macon County, Illinois Small Business Development Center at Champaign County EDC, and Midwest Inland Port, we hosted a Central Illinois Tour of the Decatur and Champaign-Urbana communities October 4-5, 2016.

Purpose: an opportunity for Chicago Consuls General and Trade Commissioners to tour the Central Illinois region to experience the rich resources, visit educational institutions, tour manufacturing companies, and view the Midwest Inland Port.

For the two-day event, we hosted 23 attendees, representing 14 different countries. Those countries included: Mexico, China, Finland, Belgium, Ecuador, Lithuania, South Africa, Philippines, Pakistan, Hungary, Canada, Macedonia, France, and Taiwan.

Caterpillar, Inc.

On Tuesday, October 4, attendees were in Decatur to learn about and tour the Midwest Inland Port, Caterpillar Inc., and Fuyao Glass Illinois.

  • The Midwest Inland Port is a multi-modal transportation hub that delivers both domestic and international flexibility for companies through a well-positioned transportation corridor, connecting the Midwest to the East, West and Gulf Coasts of North America. Strategically located, the port consists of 3 Class I railroads, an intermodal ramp, quick access to 5 major roadways and an airport equipped with a U.S. Customs Office and runways capable of handling wide-body aircraft. With a market reach of 95 million people within a 1-day’s truck drive, it’s no surprise Decatur was ranked 3rd in the nation as an Emerging Logistics and Distribution Center by Facilities Magazine.
  • Caterpillar is the world’s leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines, industrial gas turbines and diesel-electric locomotives. For 90 years, Caterpillar has been making sustainable progress possible and driving positive change on every continent. The Caterpillar Decatur facility was established in 1955. Their committed employees manufacture superior products including off-highway trucks, wheel tractor scrapers, large mining trucks (including the 797 – the world’s largest mechanical drive mining truck) and the 24M motor grader. In 2010, the Decatur facility produced its 10,000th large mining truck and that same year the facility realized a $300M capital investment.
  • A former PPG Industries plant, Fuyao Glass Group purchased the site in 2014 and has invested $200 million in the facility. Led by Chairman Cho Tak Wong, Fuyao Glass Group is the world leader of automotive glass production. Fuyao Glass Group’s expansion into the U.S. has resulted in $700 million in investments, 1,700 new manufacturing jobs in the Midwest and 1.5 million sq. ft. of unused factory space reclaimed.

On Wednesday, October 5, attendees were in Champaign-Urbana to learn about and tour the University of Illinois Research Park, Blue Waters at National Center for Supercomputing Applications, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Taylor Studios, Inc. in Rantoul.

Blue Waters

Blue Waters

  • The Research Park at the University of Illinois provides an environment where technology-based businesses can work with faculty and students to take advantage of opportunities for collaborative research and easy access to University labs, equipment and services. UIRP is now home to more than 100 companies and growing, employing more than 1,700 people in high-technology careers.
    • EnterpriseWorks is owned and operated by the University of Illinois to help launch successful startup companies; the 43,000 SF facility is at the heart of the Research Park’s community building efforts. Its atrium is a hub of activity and its clients span from biotechnology, chemical sciences, software development, to materials sciences. Through the commercialization of leading research from across the University of Illinois, its startups are working to address challenges with transformative results.
  • Blue Waters is one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world, and is the fastest supercomputer on a university campus. Scientists and engineers across the country use the computing and data power of Blue Waters to tackle a wide range of challenging problems, from predicting the behavior of complex biological systems to simulating the evolution of the cosmos. Blue Waters, built from the latest technologies from Cray, Inc., uses hundreds of thousands of computational cores to achieve peak performance of more than 13 quadrillion calculations per second. If you could multiply two numbers together every second, it would take you millions of years to do what Blue Waters does each second. Blue Waters is supported by the National Science Foundation and the University of Illinois.
  • The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is an original land-grant university founded in 1867. It continues a tradition of excellence and innovation in its missions: education, research and public engagement. More than 1,800 faculty members lead nearly 45,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students in a process of discovery and learning in 16 colleges and schools and more than 80 research centers and labs. The campus covers more than 1,500 acres. The Class of 2020 is the largest class in University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus history at 7,593 students, representing more than 33 countries and 42 states.
  • Woolly Mammoths. Giant Hawk’s Nests. Life-Size Northern Right Whales. What do they all have in common? They are all exhibits created by Taylor Studios. Every museum and nature center has a story to tell. Telling these stories through interpretive plans, exhibit designs, and fabricated environments in a way that engages their visitors is what they hire Taylor Studios to do. Through the exhibit design-build process, projects are kept on schedule and budget while provoking ideas become physical exhibits that spark visitors’ imaginations. Creating something that touches the minds and hearts of visitors and leaves a lasting impression is accomplished through the combination of the site staffs’ passion and TSI’s interpretive design-build expertise.

As part of their day in Champaign-Urbana, a luncheon was held at the iHotel and Conference Center and featured speakers included:

– Craig Rost, Champaign County Economic Development Corporation
– Marissa Siero, IntelliWheels
– Tim Barnes, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign – Illinois International
– Matt Rosenstein, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign – Illinois International
– Bill Hogate, Frasca International, Inc.
– Lee Ramirez, Litania Sports Group

  • IntelliWheels, Inc. is the innovation house for wheelchair technology, developing a line of products to meet the needs of today’s active and independent wheelchair user. IntelliWheels, Inc. continues to develop new products to decrease environmental, social, and physical barriers wheelchair users face on a daily basis. By working side by side with a variety of wheelchair users during the design process, development, and testing of new products, IntelliWheels, Inc. maintains an accurate view of the clients needs and works with wheelchair users to develop the solution.
  • Illinois International Programs is at the nexus of all global activities and international studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign—simultaneously serving as the administrative, programmatic, and strategic unit responsible for the vast array of international activities that Illinois is involved in, both on campus and abroad. Illinois is a global university, some figures:
    • #2 for international students – among public institutions with 11,000+ attending the Urbana campus from more than 110 countries
    • 500+ institutional partnerships – to support education and research with institutions in 60 countries
    • 2,400+ students studying abroad – from the Urbana campus each year on 200+ programs across more than 60 countries
  • Founded in 1958 by Rudy FRASCA, an aviation pioneer with a passion for simulation, the company’s goal has always been to build the highest quality flight simulators available. Over five decades later, and with an installed base of over 2,600 products in 70 countries, FRASCA has become an established and trustworthy leader in flight simulation.
  • Litania Sports Group (LSG) is an employee-first company. With a team of over 130 employees, their top focus is providing coaches with innovative equipment for a number of different sports through excellent service.
    • Gill Athletics (since 1918), for track and field equipment, as well as other field sports
    • Porter Athletic (since 1868), facility equipment, including but not limited to basketball and volleyball

Our many thanks to The Whitehall Hotel for sponsoring the luncheon.

Link to photos: