Fed Investment in Manufacturing Communities Is Underway

Manufacturing CEOs and owners may be able to tap into a new source of federal assistance now that the Obama administration has selected a dozen regions to disburse the first $1.3 billion under its Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP).

The idea of the partnership is to give a lift to the U.S. manufacturing economy by targeting funding to specific counties and local coalitions which then will work with manufacturers in their areas. Or, as the White House put it, the partnership will fund “designees’ plans to make targeted investments in demonstrably strong public-private partnerships to strengthen regional manufacturing. In addition, each designated community will also receive a federal liaison and branding and promotion as a designated manufacturing community to help attract additional private investment and partnerships.”

It isn’t clear at this early stage exactly what sort of opportunities this will open up for manufacturers. But as the regional interests reacted to news of the federal largesse, some of them—and the White House—provided clues to their plans.

In southeastern Michigan, for instance, application of the IMCP funds will be led by the Wayne County Economic Development Growth Engine, the Workforce Intelligence Network and the Center for Automotive Research and will be used to boost advancements in connected and automated vehicles, lightweighting, advanced powertrain, advanced manufacturing and supply-chain and logistics systems.

In southern California, meanwhile, the designation is expected to allow “a unique opportunity for the region to prove itself as a leader in the aerospace and defense industry,” said U.S. Rep Tony Cardenas, a San Fernando Valley Democrat. That region, of course, has been hit hard by a decline in defense manufacturing.

The winners in the first round of IMCP were:

  • Southwest Alabama led by the University of South Alabama

  • Southern California led by the University of Southern California Center for Economic Development

  • Northwest Georgia led by the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission

  • The Chicago metro region led by the Cook County Bureau of Economic Development

  • South Kansas led by Wichita State University

  • Greater Portland region in Maine led by the Greater Portland Council of Governments

  • Southeastern Michigan led by the Wayne County Economic Development Growth Engine

  • The New York Finger Lakes region led by the City of Rochester

  • Southwestern Ohio Aerospace Region led by the City of Cincinnati

  • The Tennessee Valley led by the University of Tennessee

  • The Washington Puget Sound region led by the Puget Sound Regional Council

  • The Milwaukee 7 Region led by the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee.

The White House promised to launch a second IMCP competition later this year to designate the next round of communities. In the meantime, the administration “will work with all the applicant communities to help them strengthen their plans and to identify opportunities for communities to work with the federal government on their local economic-development priorities.”

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