IMA and IMEC form strategic partnership

SPRINGFIELD – On the heels of the global pandemic in which American and Illinois manufacturers led our nation forward through an economic and health crisis, the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association (IMA) and Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center (IMEC) are announcing an historic formal strategic partnership that will strengthen and build upon Illinois’ rich manufacturing legacy and position the industry for future growth.


The strategic partnership will create an opportunity for the two organizations to work collaboratively and purposefully in the areas of leadership, productivity, customer engagement, operations, cybersecurity, automation, supply chain, and workforce development. The two organization have a long relationship, including working closely on the Governor’s Equipment Task Force to scale up production of essential supplies during the pandemic.


“If the pandemic and supply chain challenges have taught us anything, it’s the need for a strong American manufacturing sector,” said Mark Denzler, President & CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association. “Today’s announcement represents a historic partnership of the two leading manufacturing organizations in Illinois that will allow us to leverage our organizational strengths to grow and expand our state’s manufacturing footprint.”


“By joining forces, IMEC and the IMA will provide Illinois’ manufacturing sector with the full range of products and services in a more efficient and cost-effective way,” said Dave Boulay, PhD, President of the Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center. “This great partnership will allow us to continue igniting Illinois manufacturing excellence and global competitiveness by delivering comprehensive proven solutions.”


Illinois manufacturers employ more than 557,000 women and men on factory floors who produce the single largest share of the Gross State Product. Manufacturers have added 24,600 jobs since April 2020 when employment bottomed out during the pandemic but remain 21,200 jobs below the employment level in March of that year.


“As longtime members of the IMA, and clients of IMEC, at Gilster-Mary Lee we are excited for the synergies that will result from this partnership,” said Tom Welge, president of Gilster-Mary Lee Corporation in Chester. “The IMA has best-in-class advocacy, services, and programming, and IMEC’s expertise and experience will provide manufacturers with the tools and techniques to enhance competitiveness. This is a win-win for Illinois manufacturers.”


“IMEC and IMA have each played vital roles in the continued success of Pioneer Service and other Illinois manufacturers,” said Aneesa Muthana, president and CEO of Pioneer Service Inc. in Addison.


“Their collaboration holds astounding promise for our growing industry.”


Founded in 1893, the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association is the nation’s oldest, and one of the largest, state manufacturing trade associations. The IMA currently represents nearly 4,000 member companies and facilities across Illinois.


Created in 1997, IMEC is dedicated to helping small and medium sized manufacturers in Illinois to be more globally competitive by consulting with them and providing comprehensive and objective technical assistance, assessment tools, and resources for Leadership, Strategy, Customer Engagement, Operations, and Workforce. IMEC serves as the state’s U.S. Department of Commerce National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) center. The MEP National Network is a unique public-private partnership that delivers comprehensive, proven solutions to U.S. manufacturers, fueling growth and advancing U.S. manufacturing.


As strategic partners, the IMA and IMEC will retain their own brands while sharing some office space in Springfield, Peoria and Oak Brook.


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     


About the Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center (IMEC)

IMEC is a team of improvement specialists who are dedicated to changing lives and creating a positive impact on Illinois’ workforce and economy. With a mission to drive growth through enterprise excellence, they help organizations become more effective and efficient by identifying issues, developing and implementing solutions, and providing the necessary support that will allow them to excel in areas of leadership, strategy, customer engagement, operations, workforce, and measurement and results. In 2021, they assisted over 1,600 companies and help create or retain over 5,679 jobs, resulting in over $450M