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Illinois Defense Network: Achievements from Q3-Q4 2021

Supported by the Office of Local Defense Community Cooperation (OLDCC) in the Department of Defense (DOD), the IDN team has worked to promote and support Illinois’ defense industry and impacted communities over three phases beginning in 2015. In 2020, OLDCC awarded a Phase III Grant of one million dollars for eighteen months (January 2021 to June 2022) to the UIC Voorhees Center and the IDN team to continue building on efforts to promote defense industry resiliency in the state.

The IDN team focuses on key areas of challenge faced by defense manufacturers in the region, including cybersecurity, workforce capacity, and supply chain resiliency. The main target of these services will be small and medium sized defense manufacturers who will be encouraged, through outreach, to take advantage of opportunities to enhance their capacity and increase their resiliency. To address the goals of the project, the team carries out activities under the following categories: 1) Coordination and planning of project team activities; 2) Cybersecurity; 3) Workforce Development and Employment; 4) Defense Industry Resiliency; 5) Research, data analysis and interpretation; 6) Supply Chain Mapping Tool (SCM); and 7) Sustaining and expanding the IDN network. The following is a summary of activities carried out during the six-month period between August 1, 2021 and December 31, 2021.

1. Coordination of Activities

The UIC Voorhees Center coordinated the activities of the IDN team, and each project team member engaged with businesses in their respective regions, both in teams and one-on-one, in person and virtually, to provide information on what the program offers, to assess conditions, identify manufacturer’s needs, and develop plan of action

2. Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity training and implementation solutions were conducted during the grant period. Based on an assessment of need agreed upon by partners in each region and IMEC, workshops have been conducted in each region.

3. Workforce Development and Employment

IDN partners connected with community colleges, workforce development institutions, employers, and high schools to meet the workforce needs of manufacturers in their respective regions.

4. Defense Industry Resiliency: Innovation; Building resiliency; Business development

IDN team members engaged in a variety of efforts including workshops and seminars, targeted training, expanding networking opportunities, and sharing promising practices to promote competitiveness of businesses and manufacturers.

5. Research, Data Analysis and Interpretation

To support IDN partners working with defense manufacturers in four defense-intensive-regions, the UIC Voorhees Center conduced substantive studies for dissemination to partners, and delivery to OEC

6. Supply Chain Mapping Tools (SCM)

The UIC Voorhees Center maintained and updated the SCM tool, provides granulated data to EDO partners, and provided training on the use of the tool to staff of partner organizations.

7. Sustaining and Expanding the IDN Network, and Collaboration with the State

The IDN Team facilitated and used its connections to expand the reach of the network and its resources.