The Obama Administration has just made it easier for targeted regions in the United States to secure a piece of a $1.3 billion bounty.

Last week the Administration named 12 designated Manufacturing Communities as part of the second phase of the Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) launched last September. The effort both recognizes the importance of manufacturing, as well as the need to build on the momentum manufacturing has experienced in creating 647,000 jobs, since the "Great Recession" of five years ago.

The initiative also builds on one important, yet simple, fact: If you want to supply products to the world, someone has to make them. And to do that, jobs need to be created. To help speed this process, President Obama has focused on rewarding companies that create jobs here, and from this was born the IMCP, an initiative to spur communities to develop integrated, long-term economic development strategies that strengthen their competitive edge in attracting global manufacturers and their supply chains to local communities, which would, in turn, increase investment and create jobs.

Selected out of more than 70 communities that applied, the 12 designated communities, “developed strong economic development plans and have deep partnerships in place across the public and private sectors to carry out their plans,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker.

The “manufacturing community” designation gives these 12 communities an edge in competing for $1.3 billion to be allocated by 11 different federal agencies. In addition, each community will receive a federal liaison and branding and promotion as a designated Manufacturing Community to help attract additional private investment and partnerships.

The 12 IMCP Manufacturing Communities are:

1. Southwest Alabama
Home to 14 major shipbuilders and many more small manufacturers making everything from U.S. Navy vessels to commercial tug boats, Mobile and the surrounding Southwest Alabama area, including Baldwin, Choctaw, Clarke, Conecuh, Escambia, Mobile, Monroe, and Washington counties, led by the University of South Alabama, are strengthening and expanding their workforce partnerships to compete for shipbuilding and aerospace manufacturing.

“To be designated one of 12 manufacturing communities is a huge win for Mobile as we continue to work on recruiting in several industry clusters, including advanced manufacturing and shipbuilding,” said Bill Sisson, president and CEO of the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce.

Lynne Chronister, USA vice president for research and economic development, who submitted the application on behalf of the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce’s Partners for Growth consortium, added that the designation “puts the focus on our region, recognizing an alignment of efforts that has created a manufacturing hub in Coastal Alabama and laying the groundwork for future growth.”

2. Southern California
At the vanguard of innovation in aerospace manufacturing and home to innovative companies like SpaceX, AeroVironment, and Sapphire Energy, the Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, and Ventura counties, led by the University of Southern California Center for Economic Development, are investing in infrastructure to reduce shipping costs, higher today due to congestion by 50-250 percent, and developing a regional workforce training consortium in manufacturing.

“The Manufacturing Community designation has profound implications for Southern California, especially in aerospace and defense,” USC President C. L. Max Nikias said.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti added, “My top priority is to leave the recession in the rearview mirror by making sure Los Angeles is ready for the jobs and industries of tomorrow.” The manufacturing community designation, he said, “is the result of us being loud and clear in Washington that we’re serious about investing in jobs here in California.”

3. Northwest Georgia
Called the “Carpet Capital of the World” for producing over 70 percent of the nation’s carpet, the Dalton County and Northwest Georgia region led by the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission is transferring innovations from its universities into its local supply chain and out into the skills of its workforce to spur a more sustainable floor covering industry.

As a part of its new mission, Georgia Tech and a Core Group will develop the Northwest Georgia Advanced Manufacturing Strategy, a multi-year strategic plan focused on developing the floor-covering industry and providing the labor force necessary to support “the advanced manufacturing ecosystem.”

In February Georgia Tech hosted a day-long event for leaders in the manufacturing industry from across the region. “We have more than 9,100 small or medium-sized enterprises here in Georgia, and tens of thousands in the Southeast,” said Georgia Tech President G.P. “Bud” Peterson. “Because of their size, they typically don’t have the resources to purchase and install the latest technological advances or invest in workforce development like larger corporations do. To facilitate their growth, however, Georgia Tech is working with them to ensure that the Southeast is at the forefront of the emerging U.S. manufacturing renaissance.”

4. The Chicago Metro Region
Home to 3,700 metals and machining companies, the Chicago metro region including Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, and Will counties, led by the Cook County Bureau of Economic Development, has formed an integrated strategy to strengthen its lead in metals and machining leveraging local strengths like its strong transportation access – including six Class 1 railroads, seven interstates, and the nation’s second busiest cargo airport.

The Chicago Metro Metal Consortium Manufacturing Community, building on the region’s metal base, transportation network, and workforce development partnerships, is one of only four regions nationwide that have at least two national labs, and its strong network of research universities conducts over $2 billion a year in science and engineering R&D, according to an IMCP statement.

“The Chicago Metro Metal Consortium plans to build on the region’s metal and transportation assets to create well-paying jobs while accelerating the resurgence of manufacturing in our area,” Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle told the Times of Northwest Indiana. “This designation is the result of a remarkable partnership with local municipalities and organizations which allows us to work together to capitalize on our strategic location and strong capacity for economic growth.”

5. South Kansas
The 27-county region around Wichita, Kan., is the most manufacturing-specialized metro area in the country with 32 percent of employment in manufacturing, half of which is in the aerospace supply chain. Led by Wichita State University, South Kansas is leveraging shared research and innovation facilities to compete on the frontier of advanced materials used in planes, cutting-edge machinery, and refineries.

The proposed program prioritizes public investment in research and innovation as the catalytic element to improve support for existing advanced manufacturing businesses and workers, and to build on and strengthen the region’s competitive edge in attracting global manufacturers.

“Our goal through the IMCP is to secure south central Kansas as a global leader in advanced materials, ensuring increased high-wage employment opportunities for Kansans,” said Wichita State University President John Bardo.

6. Greater Portland Region in Maine
With arguably more breweries per capita than anywhere else in the country and over 60 food processers and hundreds of home microbusinesses, Cumberland County, home to Portland, Maine, is a food processing powerhouse. Led by the Greater Portland Council of Governments, the community is upgrading its port and improving the transportation and distribution efficiency of its supply chains to grow its lead in sustainable food production.

“This significant announcement identifies Maine’s Greater Portland Region as a strategic leader with valuable assets supporting local and regional foods manufacturing and production, including the potential to increase manufacturing opportunities for rural residents in rural communities,” said USDA Rural Development State Director Virginia Manuel.

Greater Portland Council of Government Executive Director Neal Allen added,
“The IMCP designation is critical to helping the region put all the pieces together under one umbrella and build on this brand. Over a dozen partners have already signed on to work together to leverage federal, state, and private investments to develop our food production ecosystem, including the areas of workforce development, supply chain, R&D, public infrastructure, international trade, and access to capital.”

7. Southeastern Michigan
Thirteen counties in Southeastern Michigan, including the cities of Detroit, Flint, Lansing, Ann Arbor, and Pontiac, produce 22 percent of all vehicles made in America and at $14 billion a year, account for over 70 percent of total U.S. auto research investment. Led by the Wayne County Economic Development Growth Engine (EDGE), Southeastern Michigan is building on its strengths in connected-vehicle technologies, including technologies that allow cars to communicate with each other and with the road to carry their passengers more safely and efficiently to their destinations.

Wayne County EDGE has become one of the nation’s most sophisticated and aggressive economic expansion and attraction programs, attracting over $2 billion in new investment to Wayne County since 2009.

“The Advance Michigan initiative, which encompasses a 13-county Michigan region anchored by the cities of Ann Arbor, Detroit, Flint, Lansing and Pontiac, will be led by Wayne County EDGE to focus on innovations that support increased efficiency and enhanced safety in the automotive sector. Advance Michigan will receive a portion of a $1.3 billion funding award to support manufacturing revitalization in Southeast Michigan,” said U.S. Representative Gary Peters.

8. The New York Finger Lakes Region
With more than 120 photonics manufacturers and more than 500 photonics patents last year alone, the Greater Rochester region, led by the City of Rochester, is bringing new life to manufacturing business parks and expanding its workforce development efforts to maintain its historic lead in precision machining and optics, photonics, and imaging.

The Finger Lakes Region has undergone a dramatic shift from supply chains concentrated around a handful of large, national employers to supply chains built on a broad-based foundation of many smaller, homegrown companies.

In the short term, the Finger Lakes Region will increase participation in its
workforce training programs, strengthen its supply networks, increase the deployment of research into marketable products, ensure the availability of modern industrial space, attract foreign investment and increase exports, and develop and expand support for companies to access capital and improve operations.

“It is both an honor to be chosen for such an important designation as well as an acknowledgement of the Genesee-Finger Lakes Region’s historic strength in advanced manufacturing,” said David Zorn, executive director and revolving loan fund relationship coordinator of the Genesee/Finger Lakes Regional Planning Council. “We are proud to be a part of this consortium that includes the City of Rochester, the nine counties of the Genesee-Finger Lakes Region, academic organizations and universities, as well as economic development, community and workforce development organizations. We look forward to working together to continue our efforts to build upon the manufacturing strength of the region.”

9. Southwestern Ohio Aerospace Region
The birthplace of modern aviation, with over 116,000 manufacturing workers across all stages of the aerospace supply chain, the 27 counties along the I-75 Corridor, led by the City of Cincinnati, are expanding industry-led curriculum and training and launching efforts to certify more small manufacturers for aerospace manufacturing.

“Establishing a regional aerospace project that combines the aviation history of Dayton with the aeronautical engineering legacy of Cincinnati will help attract new jobs to southwest Ohio and increase the overall viability of the aerospace industry in the state,” Sen. Sherrod Brown said last month while promoting the region. “The region’s military presence, top-tier universities, and vibrant private research sector make this area ideal for this type of federal investment.”

“Anytime we can combine our efforts to give us a competitive advantage at securing those grants, it’s a good thing. Each city can build on the other’s strengths, which helps our region and the entire state,” Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley said in a news release. “Mayor (Jan) Whaley and her leadership have been an invaluable help in getting the designation.”

10. The Tennessee Valley
In the past two years alone, more than 150 auto and auto parts manufacturers have announced expansions or new facilities in the Tennessee Valley automotive region, which spans 69 counties in Tennessee and portions of southern Kentucky, north Alabama, and north Georgia. Led by the University of Tennessee, the region is better connecting its nationally renowned research institutions with manufacturers to move up the value chain in automotive manufacturing.

The region was selected as a Manufacturing Community following a Drive for the Future proposal submitted by the University of Tennessee (UT) Institute for Public Service (IPS) as part of a consortium in partnership with many entities, including Oak Ridge National Laboratory, state automotive manufacturing associations, state manufacturing extension partnerships, regional economic development organizations, and others. The consortium, under the direction of IPS Assistant Vice President Chuck Shoopman, submitted a proposal focused on growth and development of a dynamic automotive supply chain that exists within a 69-county, four-state core region of the Tennessee Valley. The region ranks fifth in automotive employment in the country with 94,000 people employed among 582 establishments, including original equipment manufacturers General Motors, Nissan, Toyota, and Volkswagen.

“This project documents the importance of manufacturing, specifically the automotive sector, to our state and region. This affiliation with our Institute for Public Service and its partners will help both the automotive supply chain and other advanced industries benefit from the world-class research assets available in this region” said UT President Dr. Joe DiPietro. “This designation is a great opportunity for IPS and its partners to enhance manufacturing opportunities throughout the region, making a difference for Tennessee and its residents.”

11. The Washington Puget Sound Region
The counties along the I-90 and I-5 Aerospace Corridors in Washington State host the largest aerospace cluster in the world, with over 132,000 aerospace-related employees and more than 1,350 aerospace firms. Led by the Puget Sound Regional Council, the region is working with local employers to identify training needs and to develop new manufacturing capabilities to strength its aerospace supply chains.

Puget Sound Regional Council’s mission is to ensure a thriving central Puget Sound, both now and in the future through planning for regional transportation, growth management, and economic development. PSRC developed a strategy with more than 300 business, government, labor, community, and education leaders from throughout the region and state, including action items designed to grow the region’s strengths in aerospace and aerospace supply chains.

As part of its workforce efforts, PSRC plans to create a 37,000-square-foot
Advance Manufacturing Training & Education Center (AMTEC) to train students for high demand jobs in manufacturing and aerospace; and provide funding for training programs.

In addition, to improve supplier capabilities, PSRC plans to map gaps in
Boeing’s supply chain, and identify opportunities to attract investment in facilities and employees in relative proximity to final assembly sites. PSRC will expand the use of an online database of Washington suppliers to assist OEMs in identifying and partnering with capable supply chain partners and will seek to develop informal and formal partnerships with other aerospace regions.

12. The Milwaukee 7 Region
Known as the “Machine Shop of the World,” the seven-county Milwaukee region in Southeast Wisconsin employs more than 15 percent of its workforce in manufacturing. Led by the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee, the region is building on its historic strengths in precision machining to attract new jobs and investment in energy and power, water technologies, and food and beverage manufacturing.

“This (designation) is a testament to the comprehensive work Milwaukee 7 is doing to develop our workforce, grow our economy, and create jobs,” Gov. Scott Walker said. “(It) will help boost economic development in the Transform Milwaukee area, and all of southeastern Wisconsin, which will have a positive impact on our great state.”

“It’s a big deal,” added Pat O’Brien, executive director of the M7 economic development group and one of the leaders of the Milwaukee area effort. “What it shows is … we can not only compete at a national level, but win.”


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