FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 7, 2024
Manufacturers Push Legislative Agenda to Strengthen Workforce, Advance Cutting-Edge Technology, and Help Illinois Reach Clean Energy Goals
Key proposals would provide tuition assistance, free childcare for workers, support research and development programs, and allow for carbon capture and sequestration
SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Manufacturers’ Association (IMA) unveiled its 2024 legislative agenda today, advocating for measures to strengthen the state’s manufacturing ecosystem by supporting students and families entering the workforce, advancing the development of cutting-edge technology, and allowing carbon capture and sequestration to help the state reach its clean energy goals.
Manufacturing is the largest contributor of any industry to the state’s Gross Domestic Product, supporting nearly a third of all jobs in Illinois and contributing more than $580 billion to the state’s economy each year. For continued growth, lawmakers must adopt policies that make it easier for manufacturers to hire and retain qualified workers and encourage businesses to invest in new technologies that can revolutionize the world. To advance these goals, the IMA recently partnered with members of the General Assembly to form a new bipartisan and bicameral Illinois Manufacturing Caucus, which will focus on issues that impact the industry.
“Illinois has a proud manufacturing history, but we cannot rest on our laurels as other states implement policies that incentivize manufacturers to locate outside of our borders,” said Mark Denzler, President & CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association. “We must harness our talent to build a workforce of the future and embrace technology that is poised to solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges. Manufacturers across Illinois look forward to working collaboratively with lawmakers to get the job done.”
Nationally, there are 625,000 open jobs in the manufacturing industry, including tens of thousands of available jobs in Illinois. The IMA is dedicated to working with employers, educators and lawmakers to enact policies that help attract, retain and grow a skilled workforce. This includes the creation a Student Loan Employer Tax Credit, which would provide employers with a tax credit if they help pay student loan debt of their employees; a new Manufacturing Promise Scholarship Program to provide high school students with free community college education if they are enrolled in a manufacturing pathway; a pilot program that would allow a select number of manufacturers to open free, on-site, employee-only childcare centers; and, updated high school graduation requirements that would substitute two years of Career and Technical Education courses in place of the current two-year foreign language requirement.
Additional measurers backed by the IMA include modernizing and making permanent the state’s Research and Development Tax Credit, which will allow manufacturers to continue to invest in key technologies including electric vehicle battery development and quantum research; and, establishing rules and procedures to allow for carbon capture and sequestration, which will not only help Illinois reach its clean energy targets but also create important economic investment.
“As manufacturers across Illinois seek to fill open positions, it’s important we work collaboratively with employers, educators and policy makers to find solutions to our workforce challenges. This includes supporting students through their educational journey and removing barriers that prevent employees from entering the workforce, including a lack of childcare,” said Sarah Hartwick, Vice President of Education & Workforce Policy and Executive Director of the IMA’s Education Foundation.
Illinois Manufacturers’ Association 2024 Legislative Agenda
Student Loan Employer Tax Credit (SB1313, Sen. Meg Loughran Cappel/HB4435, Rep. Katie Stuart)
This initiative is an attempt to help with two issues: student loan debt for employees and workforce shortages. Employers will earn a tax credit if they assist with the payment of student loan debt of their employees. This proposal, modeled off the federal Employer Participation in Repayment Act, will help ease student debt while also attracting employees to manufacturing jobs.
Manufacturing Promise Scholarship Program (Sen. Karina Villa)
Similar to the MAP grant program, this initiative would provide high school students with free community college education if they are enrolled in a manufacturing pathway. This is not a tuition waiver and will require a minimum 20% participation from underrepresented groups. Community college manufacturing programs as well as apprenticeship and union manufacturing programs qualify under this program.
The Manufacturer Childcare Incentive Pilot Program (HB4670, Rep. Amy Elik)
Establishes a pilot program that will allow 10 manufacturers to open on-site, employee-only childcare centers at no cost to their employees. The employer is required to follow staffing, medication, background checks and liability insurance requirements through an expedited approval process. The IMA is also seeking to bring grant dollars/incentives to employers who open childcare centers in designated childcare deserts.
High School Graduation Requirements (HB3307, Rep. Amy Elik/Rep. Katie Stuart)
Under this proposal, high school graduation requirements would be changed to allow for two years of Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses in place of the two-year foreign language requirement. This will allow for critical education that more closely meets the needs of students and employers.
Modernize Research & Development Tax Credit (SB163, Sen. Don DeWitte/HB4457 Rep. Joe Sosnowski)
Research and Development (R&D) is the lifeblood of manufacturers who are constantly creating and improving products. However, Illinois’ R&D credit is outdated and will soon expire without state intervention. This proposal increases the R&D credit by providing that the increase in research and development activities shall be based on an increase of over 50% of the average of the qualifying expenditures for each year in the base period. Currently, the credit is based on an increase of over 100 percent of the average of the qualifying expenditures for each year in the base period. This change modernizes the bill to match changes to the R&D credit at the federal level and makes the R&D credit permanent moving forward.
Carbon Capture & Sequestration
The IMA continues to champion legislation to establish regulations for land issues, permitting, liability and fees surrounding carbon capture and sequestration (CCS). Illinois is primed to be a leader in CCS, which would help the state reach its clean energy goals while growing our economy. However, as more time passes without action in Illinois, other states are taking advantage of CCS, including winning competitive federal funding.
About the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association (IMA)
The Illinois Manufacturers’ Association is the only statewide association dedicated exclusively to advocating, promoting, and strengthening the manufacturing sector in Illinois. The IMA is the oldest and largest state manufacturing trade association in the United States, representing nearly 4,000 companies and facilities. For more information, please visit http://ima-net.org/.
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