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Southwestern Ohio Aerospace Region soars as Obama designates first 12 IMCPs

Five years after the economy teetered on the brink of collapse following a meltdown on Wall Street that was precipitated by a collapse of subprime housing mortgages, American manufacturers have created 647,000 jobs. Rewarding companies that create jobs here instead of overseas, rescuing the U.S. auto industry and expanding exports are ways the White House said Wednesday that President Obama has focused on boosting U.S. manufacturing.

Wright brothers memorial at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
John Michael Spinelli
The Southwestern Ohio Aerospace region, led by the City of Cincinnati, was among these first 12 Manufacturing Communities designated by President Obama Wednesday.

This seems an impressive hat-trick for a twice-elected chief executive, who can point to little help from a Congress disabled from partisan bickering and gridlock orchestrated nearly exclusively by Republicans in Washington.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker announced today the first 12 communities that will be designated Manufacturing Communities as part of the second phase of the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership [IMCP]. Selected out of more than 70 communities that applied, these dozen communities developed strong economic development plans and have deep partnerships in place across the public and private sectors to carry out their plans. The Southwestern Ohio Aerospace Region [SOAR], led by the City of Cincinnati, was among these first 12 Manufacturing Communities.

At the heart of an historical and growing aerospace industry in the United States, the SOAR strengths in aerospace manufacturing date back to the Wright brothers and their invention of the airplane in Dayton, OH. More than 64 aerospace companies today employ almost 12,000 workers in the region. SOAR is in the top-third nationally across 23 of the 25 industries that make up aerospace supply chains, and across these aerospace supply chains, employs 116,000 manufacturing workers. The region’s position at the vanguard of the manufacturing revival has been recognized by Forbes magazine and by the Brookings Institution, which named SOAR a top twenty North American trade metro.

A strong manufacturing sector helped build America’s middle class, and helping to rebuild it from the drubbing it took during the Great Recession, the White House said more good jobs can be created as American workers manufacture products the rest of the world buys.

Last September the White House launched the IMCP, an initiative designed 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 our local communities. IMCP specifically brings together the resources of multiple federal departments and agencies to support strong local economic development plans.

Southwestern Ohio, the birthplace of modern aviation, now boasts over 116,000 manufacturing workers across all stages of the aerospace supply chain. In the 27 counties along the I-75 Corridor, there has been an expansion of industry-led curriculum, training and the launching of efforts to certify more small manufacturers for aerospace manufacturing.

The first 12 IMCPs: 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.

Eleven federal agencies with $1.3 billion in economic development funds will be able to use the designees' plans to make targeted investments in demonstrably strong public-private partnerships to strengthen regional manufacturing, the White House told reporters today. 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.

And more plans will be rolled out later this year, when the White House will launch a second Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership competition to designate the next round of communities. In a collaborative fashion, the president has directed his Administration and federal agencies to work with all the applicant communities to help strengthen their plans and to identify opportunities for communities to work with the federal government on their local economic development priorities.

Sharing is good, and the White House wants more than seventy communities that applied for the IMCP to share best practices in economic development planning and attracting new jobs and investment in manufacturing. IMCP was launched in 2013 with a series of regional roundtables hosted by several federal agencies to help raise the awareness of funding opportunities available in manufacturing as well as to seek bottom-up input from local communities on the upcoming phases of the initiative.

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