Columns | Northwest Herald

Grants available to assist McHenry County manufacturers

Have you noticed less inventory on store shelves, increased prices for shipping or longer delivery times? You’re not alone, as these issues go beyond the consumer and have an influence on manufacturers as well.

McHenry County noticed some of these issues were affecting local manufacturers and decided to proactively dedicate resources that will contribute to manufacturing excellence far into the future. They started by allocating funds received from the American Rescue Plan Act to fund the needs of manufacturers by teaming with the Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center. The impact McHenry County was looking for and the solutions IMEC could provide seemed to match up perfectly.

Doug Pennington

Many McHenry County manufacturers are small to mid-sized. These companies often don’t have the extra funds or time to pursue growth opportunities and projects that can help them expand their businesses.

Putting the pieces together, IMEC and McHenry County officials created the Advance McHenry County grant, specifically targeting those manufacturers most in need. Knowing that each situation is unique, these grants help provide projects that cater to the company’s highest priorities. The creation of the specific projects offered stems from an extensive survey to determine what manufacturers need most.

Since enrollment began on July 20, McHenry manufacturers have been taking advantage of this first-of-its-kind program. In fact, the first round of applicants are beginning to complete their full projects. Companies such as BTM Industries and Boltswitch Inc. are paving the way for the manufacturing well-being in McHenry County.

BTM Industries President Kyra Tillman recently received a grant for her company to use a lead generation service and start an email marketing campaign.

“It’s something I’ve thought about doing but never pulled the trigger on. I think I was apprehensive about spending money on something when I had absolutely no idea if there would be any sort of return on investment. When I saw the grant opportunity to undertake this type of project with the assistance of IMEC, I jumped at the chance” Tillman said.

Tillman was pleased with her results, saying, “Our first email blast went out last week and we received a quote request in less than 24 hours. I’m really thankful that McHenry County and IMEC decided to make these projects available to local manufacturers. It has really given us the opportunity to explore something that could end up being extremely beneficial to the growth of our company.”

Socomec Boltswitch in Crystal Lake is a manufacturer of fusible switches utilized in electrical switchgear. Managing Director Michael Rosfelder said, “When we learned that a grant was available to have IMEC come in here to do some much-needed leadership training, we didn’t think twice.”

Rosfelder added, “Through past work with IMEC, we have come to know them as the greatest resource a small business can expect. Any business that needs to change/upgrade/get to the next level in manufacturing can rely on their expertise and experience. To be able to take advantage of this expertise at no cost to our company is remarkable. We are grateful to McHenry County and IMEC for making something like this available to the county’s manufacturing base.”

We are thrilled companies are taking advantage of this IMEC/McHenry County initiative, however, my concern is that a lot of the manufacturers this grant was specifically designed to help don’t know about it. There are many small manufacturers out there that we simply are not aware of and cannot contact because they are not in our database. All we can do is make as many people as possible aware of the program and hope that word of mouth reaches the rest of the manufacturers that need it. Hopefully, this column will help get the word out.

The grant itself is available to help over 75 manufacturing companies and is still open for applications to be reviewed. Applications for the Advance McHenry County grant can be made online at

Doug Pennington is regional manager for the Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center. His email is