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Partnership gets EDA grant award
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Tri-State community colleges, councils of governments, and planning commissions are partnering to develop an expanded business plan and implementation strategy for the Tri-State Advanced Manufacturing Center of Excellence.

The center was founded earlier this year by Northeast Iowa Community College in Calmar, Peosta and Dubuque, Iowa, and Southwest Wisconsin Technical College in Fennimore.

Randy Schofield was hired as its first director.

The new planning project will develop a more comprehensive and visionary strategy for service to a 25-county region in Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin centered around the Dubuque metropolitan area.

Southwestern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission in Platteville, Blackhawk Hills Regional Council in Rock Falls, Ill., and East Central Intergovernmental Association in Dubuque, along with the two colleges will identify workforce training programs, technical assistance, and entrepreneurship support programs to further innovation and growth in the region’s advanced manufacturing industries.

The goal of the project is to enable the region’s employers and entrepreneurs to retain and attract private investment and create jobs in the region. The estimated completion date for the business plan is October 2014.

The project is funded through the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s Local Technical Assistance Program. The total project cost is $240,000, with $120,000 awarded from EDA and the $120,000 in local match coming from the partnership.

This grant award positions the region to apply for phase two of the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership grant program. EDA grants are awarded through a competitive process based upon the application’s merit, the applicant’s eligibility, and the availability of funds.