Manufacturing to benefit from regional innovation initiative funding

October 12, 2012

U.S. manufacturers have been handed a boost from the current administration after it was announced that 10 public-private partnerships in various states would receive federal funding as part of a government initiative to energize manufacturing and increase investment in the sector.

The announcement by the White House on October 9 that 10 manufacturing clusters would receive a combined total of $20 million comes at a time when the industry is slowly recovering from the economic downturn of 2008. Ten states will be awarded varying sums of federal funding through a multi-agency grant process, with Arizona, California, Michigan, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Washington all receiving an average of $2 million that will be used to encourage small businesses to grow and leverage manufacturing resources in their communities.

As part of its commitment to American industry and the domestic workforce, the federal government created the Advanced Manufacturing Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge in May 2012, with the intention being to support local initiatives that were supporting job creation and developing a regional manufacturing strategy. Supported by a number of federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Small Business Administration, the scheme is a partnership with the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

"By partnering across the federal government, these grants will help us leverage resources and ensure that training programs for advanced manufacturing careers provide the skills, certifications and credentials that employers want to see from day one," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis.

Since February 2010, the U.S. economy has seen nearly 500,000 manufacturing jobs added nationwide, a sustained period of growth that has allowed U.S. manufacturers to compete in the global marketplace. As part of rebuilding the American economy, the Obama Administration has also spent more than $200 million in promoting regional innovation clusters that seek to commercialize new ideas and promote quality management in manufacturing for both domestic and overseas investors, with this latest round of funding the third of its kind.

"As part of President Obama’s blueprint for an economy built to last, the Energy Department is investing in innovative, public-private initiatives like the Advanced Manufacturing Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge that support the pillars of American energy, American manufacturing and skills for American workers," said U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu in a press release. "These investments are helping America strengthen our competitive edge and leadership in the global manufacturing sector."