The Cook County Early Warning Network was set up in 2020 to help small and mid-sized manufacturers in Cook County that are facing financial distress because of COVID-19. Companies that can benefit from the program typically have fewer than 40 employees.
The program is funded by the Cook County Bureau of Economic Development in partnership with the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership.
The program utilizes two approaches. First, a human network that includes Manufacturing Renaissance, other nonprofits, and faith-based organizations works to identify companies that could benefit from the program. The second approach uses data to look at the financial stability of a company. MR has assembled a team of consultants that provide data research, financial, outreach and other services to companies. The Early Warning Network team can help companies restructure finances, streamline operations, transition to new ownership, and engage in strategic growth planning as well as assist with the development of career pathway training.
Since March, the Early Warning Network team has outreached to 521 companies with 44 companies who have expressed interest and are in process of being qualified for our services. The team in in process of serving six companies, it wants to support with various financial advisory services, recommending strategies that can make an impact. “We let companies know what services we can provide if they are facing financial uncertainty,” says Selene Diaz, who manages the program for Manufacturing Renaissance.
In March, the County announced that the program will continue through September 30.
While the program was set up to help companies that have encountered various financial pressures during the pandemic – including cash flow issues, the price of some products going up, and more – it really addresses a continuing challenge that will persist after the pandemic. “The whole idea is that it becomes more important to have access to what is really going on in small companies,” says Dan Swinney, founder and senior advisor of Manufacturing Renaissance. “This Network helps find out more about these companies so that we can provide timely assistance to them. It can also be a model for national efforts to provide these services to companies.”
For more information, contact Selene Diaz.