Today, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17), a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, announced that she secured $10 million for the Quad Cities Manufacturing Lab and $400,000 for small business-focused programming at Western Illinois University’s (WIU) Quad-Cities campus in a major funding package. The package has passed the House and will be voted on by the Senate and signed into law by President Biden in the coming days.

“As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, my top priority is bringing taxpayer dollars back home to support our communities,” said Congresswoman Bustos. “That’s why I’m thrilled to announce that $10 million in federal funding is coming to the Quad Cities Manufacturing Lab and $400,000 will support small business-focused programming at Western Illinois University’s Quad-Cities campus. Not only will these funds help to create new small businesses in the area, but it will help existing ones to develop succession plans to extend their longevity in the community.”

Bustos Secures Funding for Manufacturing Lab, Western Illinois University Quad-Cities Campus

Cheri Bustos

“We are so grateful to Rep. Bustos for her support. She understands the foundational importance of small businesses to the main street economy in Illinois. With investment centered on the WIU-QC campus, our project proposes three strategies to help business owners along the business life cycle. First, we plan to expand outreach to help start new businesses, especially among underserved communities in the Quad Cities and northwest Illinois. Second, we plan to help existing businesses grow by helping them through the procurement process. Third, we will help business owners looking for an exit strategy to develop viable business succession plans. The broader vision is to position the WIU as a catalyst for a more robust and sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystem for the Quad Cities, as well as west central and northwest Illinois,” said Christopher Merrett, Director of the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs at Western Illinois University.

Congresswoman Bustos submitted the request to expand the capacity of WIU to drive innovation and small business success. The funding will support a program to promote new business startups through entrepreneurship training, help existing small businesses explore new markets, and encourage late-stage small businesses to create business succession plans.


According to the most recent Illinois Small Business Profile published by the Small Business Administration, there are approximately 1.2 million small businesses in Illinois. Small businesses employ 2.1 million people and represent 45% of the Illinois private-sector labor force.

This proposal builds on WIU’s current success in reaching out to minority and women entrepreneurs in the Quad Cities and across northwestern Illinois and would offer technical assistance to help small businesses, including minority and women-owned businesses. While studies show that a majority of small businesses do not maintain succession plans, this initiative would launch a region-wide business succession planning initiative that will include an online business succession-planning toolkit, a marketing strategy to ensure people know about the resource, and will deliver a series of business succession planning workshops in the Quad Cities and across Northwestern and Central Illinois.

In addition to direct project funding, Congresswoman Bustos also helped secure support for a number of priorities for the Quad-Cities community, including:

  • $15 million for large-scale additive manufacturing prototyping: The funding will support programs at the Rock Island Arsenal Center for Excellence for Additive and Advanced Manufacturing that prototype components such as jointless hulls of the Next Generation Combat Vehicle. The ability to manufacture combat vehicles without joints will increase both manufacturing efficiency and the ability of a vehicle to survive.
  • $25 million for soft recoil artillery systems: This funding will support the work of Rock Island-based Mandus Group which tests soft recoil technology to be used on U.S. Army Humvees.
  • $15 million in Expeditionary Additive Construction: This funding supports an initiative critical to the Rock Island Arsenal’s Center of Excellence.
  • $10 million for the Quad-Cities Manufacturing Lab: This funding will support the lab’s development of personal protective equipment which will provide servicemembers greater, lightweight protection.
  • $5 million for environmentally friendly coatings for military equipment: This funding will support the development of coatings that prevent corrosion of military equipment and enhance longevity. Much of this work and testing takes place at the Rock Island Arsenal.
  • A provision to improve future missions on locks and dams in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Rock Island District: Today’s package includes language that would urge better communication and a thorough reporting process on the long-term viability of both the Chicago and Rock Island Districts to ensure projects are appropriately assigned.
  • Protection Against Flooding: The bill includes $275 million for the Flood Hazard Mapping and Risk Analysis Program, a tool that communities use to know which areas have the highest risk of flooding.
  • $8 million in funding to help local governments create plans to fight the social factors that harm long-term health: This funding would address factors such as health care provider shortages, food deserts, unsafe and insecure housing and other environmental factors specific to local community needs. This provision aligns with Congresswoman Bustos’ Social Determinants Accelerator Act.


  • $25 million in funding for a pilot program in the National Health Service Corps: This provision will extend loan repayment for five years and provide $200,000 for providers serving in a rural area facing a health professional shortage. This aligns with Congresswoman Bustos’ Rural America Health Corps Act to help recruit and retain health care professionals to address workforce shortages and meet the needs of small towns across Northwest and Central Illinois.


  • Support for small business succession planning to encourage the Small Business Administration to help develop guidance, training, best practices, workshops, and other resources: This will assist small business owners and entrepreneurs in establishing and executing a business succession plan. This is in line with Congresswoman Bustos’ Small Business Succession Planning Act.
  • A provision to encourage all federal agencies to purchase flags that contain 100 percent American-made materials: This is in line with Congresswoman Bustos’ All American Flag Act.
  • A provision to encourage the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to review pending applications for advanced biofuels under the Renewable Fuel Standard.
  • Support for improvements to veteran telehealth services: This support is critical to meeting the health care needs of our veterans during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • A provision encouraging the Veterans Healthcare Administration (VHA) Veterans Transportation Program (VTP) to adopt on-demand shared ride service: This will increase transportation access, coverage and efficiency for veterans in rural communities.
  • $3.5 million for a Pilot Program for military online real estate management: To create a tool similar to popular online real estate websites, in order to market existing, unused property to the Army, other federal agencies, or private partners. This is an initiative Congresswoman Bustos helped propose.
  • $10 million for new low carbon fuels and engine technologies: This funding will support the research and development of new engine architectures that integrate low-carbon fuels like ethanol and biodiesel, including the performance of these engines on higher blends of renewable fuels – which is critical to family farmers in Northwest and Central Illinois.
  • Help expediting Bureau of Prisons (BOP) retention bonuses: This will help facilities where 10 percent or more of the total available positions are vacant, in order to combat understaffing issues at sites like Thomson Prison.
  • Help expediting the approval of direct hire authority for BOP facilities: This will help facilities where 10 percent or more of the total available positions are vacant, in order to combat understaffing issues at sites like Thomson Prison.
Bustos Secures Funding for Manufacturing Lab, Western Illinois University Quad-Cities Campus
Sean Leary is an author, director, artist, musician, producer and entrepreneur who has been writing professionally since debuting at age 11 in the pages of the Comics Buyers Guide. An honors graduate of the University of Southern California masters program, he has written over 50 books including the best-sellers The Arimathean, Every Number is Lucky to Someone and We Are All Characters.
Bustos Secures Funding for Manufacturing Lab, Western Illinois University Quad-Cities Campus

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