* Press release…
Governor Bruce Rauner [yesterday] toured II-VI EpiWorks and reaffirmed the administration’s commitment to fostering innovation and technology in Illinois.
“EpiWorks started at the University of Illinois, and stayed here. Thank you for investing in Illinois, for believing in Illinois and for showing others what can happen here. You are the future and a model for Illinois’ economic recovery,” said Governor Rauner. “Illinois has every resource to be an economic power and lead the nation—except good government. We have got to advocate for real change that fosters innovation and creates good paying jobs.”
As part of his tour, Governor Rauner discussed the administration’s plans to change the broken system in Illinois. The administration is committed to increasing job growth and creating high quality jobs across all sectors to Illinois by making Illinois competitive. One goal is to improve the schools in Illinois including expanding alternative options like apprenticeship programs. The administration has also created the Illinois Competitiveness Council to assist businesses who want to start, expand or stay in Illinois.
EpiWorks is a successful high-tech company founded by Quesnell Hartmann and David Ahmari, along with their University of Illinois faculty advisor, Gregory Stillman in 1997. Hartmann and Ahmari are world renowned experts who have successfully parlayed their expertise to create a thriving semiconductor fabrication company. EpiWorks has maintained a goal to help build a critical mass so UIUC would be a hub for not just semiconductor research, but also for commercialization and production.
There is just so much wrong with this release.
* First, EpiWorks was started at a University of Illinois incubator. One of the founders said in December the company plans to hire 80 employees over three years. It needs engineering and production personnel for its compound semiconductor epitaxial wafer facility.
So, if EpiWorks is the “future and a model for Illinois’ economic recovery,” as the governor says in his release, and those entrepreneurs need high-quality, well-educated workers, then why the heck are we zapping universities in this state?
Look, “expanding alternative options like apprenticeship programs” and creating a Competitiveness Council to help businesses are fine and dandy. But if we want more of these sorts of high tech start-ups, then the best thing we can do is provide them with a higher education system that is second to none, right?
Now, read that press release again and see if you can find any mention of doing that. You didn’t see it? OK, now look for any reference to higher education at all except for a few UIUC name-checks. Nothing?
* Meanwhile, Moody’s announced this week that it could be whacking the U of I’s credit rating in a few months, along with every other public university. But Champaign-area reporters asked only one question of the governor when he did his EpiWorks visit yesterday: “Do you think five weeks is going to be enough to agree on a budget and is bad money better than no money at all?” Click here to listen.