SIC Awarded Joint Grant to Building Illinois' Bioeconomy

October 2, 2014

On Monday, Vice President Joe Biden announced that the Building Illinois’ Bioeconomy (BIB) consortium, which includes: Southeastern Illinois College (SIC), Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, Carl Sandburg College, Lincoln Land College, and Lewis & Clark College; has been awarded $9.9 million dollars to create an Illinois network of bio-based training and employment pathways that can be completed in two years or less.

“These investments will help prepare workers with the skills needed for in-demand careers and advance the role of community colleges as engines of economic growth,” according to U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. 

Illinois’ bioeconomy is a driving force for economic development and innovation across the state. This bio-based industry employs more than 54,000 direct, indirect, and induced jobs generating more than $5 billion in total economic output. The grant funding is part of a Presidential directive calling upon industry and institutions of higher learning to partner and create robust, fast-track pathways from training to jobs. This grant provides the framework for college instructors and business leaders to collaborate in creating training and employment pathways that supports Illinois’ work environment, is recognized by national trade associations, and provides real job opportunities.

The grant will provide approximately $750,000 to SIC for continued work in its biofuels program to support program and training development.

Dr. Jonah Rice, SIC President, stated, “SIC is a very proud partner in this grant that will provide valuable workforce skills.  SIC’s biofuels program will continue to benefit and grow as a national leading certificate program because of this grant.” 

Renee Loesche, SIC’s biofuels instructor, explains, “The true innovation of this grant is that training will be created with industry and trade association involvement to allow fast-track certificates that build upon a person’s current skills and education to train them for jobs that exist in the bio-process industries of today.” 

This round of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCTA) grant funds builds upon the Obama Administration’s focus on job-driven training.  All course materials developed through this grant will be available as open educational resources so that others can access and build on successful training models.

In this final phase of the TAACCTA, SIC will continue to build upon their innovative Biofuels Program to provide a pathway for displaced workers, veterans, and the underemployed to receive relevant training and stackable credentials that lead to employment in today’s rural workplace. The consortium as a whole includes employers involved in the vast array of water resources which includes managing watershed, groundwater, and waste water; chemical and refining operations; and the bioeconomy that includes chemical, animal feed, and fuel production.

These courses will be online and/or hybrid courses that allows those seeking employment to build upon high school diplomas and/or limited skill sets to improve those skills and become eligible for the jobs of the 21st century.

Building Illinois’ Bioeconomy consortium members:

Southeastern Illinois College, Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, Carl Sandburg College, Lincoln Land College, and Lewis & Clark College.

Building Illinois’ Bioeconomy Industry Partners:

Monsanto, Adkins Energy, Lincoln Land Agri-Energy, Big River Resources, Fremont Industries, Abengoa Bioenergy, Schwarz Brothers, Gates Manufacturing, Midstate Manufacturing Company, Alexis Fire Equipment, Illinois American Water, National Great Rivers Research and Education Center, National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center, Phillips Refinery, and Midstate Manufacturing Co.

Trade & Community Association Partners:

Illinois Renewable Fuels Association, National Corn Growers Association, Growth Energy, Illinois Manufacturers Association, Monmouth Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Water Alliance, Northeast-Midwest Institute, Illinois State Water Survey, Agricultural Watershed Institute, Illinois Workforce Investment Boards, Illinois Association of Soil and Water Conservation District, City Water Light & Power.