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The competitive global marketplace is making it increasingly difficult for manufacturers to make a profit, but here in Rockford manufacturers have a tool that makes them a cut above the rest.

"We're trying to be a one stop shop for small businesses and entrepreneurs," says Thomas McDunn, Director of Advanced Manufacturing at EIGERlab.

There are more than 1,200 manufacturers in the Rockford area. Most of them are small businesses. The EIGERlab is set up to help them excel in the global economy.

"Three things go on here; education and research, commercialization and business development," says McDunn.

Partners at the EIGERlab do everything from develop new technologies to finding larger manufacturers that can use the new innovations.

"Our goal is to help customers understand we have capabilities in the region," says John Oller, Executive Director of MAARV.

EIGERlab also provides space for manufacturers that are expanding. When they move in there are experts on hand that help with marketing and sales.

"When you provide a facility like this to help any start up or scale up company you're gonna really take a lot expenses from what they need to make operations grow," says Larry Martinelli with Supermaterials Inc.

While partners are researching and developing business strategies they're also setting up a large network of manufacturers. They help them get to know other manufacturers. Partners at EIGERlab hope they can help some of the small manufacturers grow to become big employers.