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October 2016

Spotlight: Manufacturing: The Backbone of the U.S. Economy

Julie Wenah is a Policy Advisor at the Economic Development Administration

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EDA Deputy Assistant Secretary Matt Erskine and EDA Policy Advisor Julie Wenah pose for a photo with manufacturing students at Austal USA in Mobile, Alabama.

Manufacturing is the backbone of the American economy.

Our ability to innovate and create products, tools, and services that transform the way we live and operate is essential to our national competitiveness.

In 2013, President Obama tasked the Economic Development Administration (EDA) with creating a program that recognizes the resurgence of U.S manufacturing and incentivizes communities to operate within a region to leverage local assets to become globally competitive. As a result, the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) program was born.

My background is in intellectual property and energy/infrastructure in Africa, so when I joined EDA nearly two years ago, I was excited to delve deep into the world of manufacturing. It has been quite a ride.

The best part of leading this initiative is getting to work alongside talented federal partners across the country and 12 other federal partner agencies to support manufacturing communities.

I speak on behalf of EDA's federal partners when I say that our favorite part of this initiative is working alongside amazing manufacturing communities who have termed us their "Best Friends Forever." We operate as a family - there is no 'you' and 'us' between the federal government and manufacturing communities. We work collectively to enhance and improve the economic development climate in these communities.

Another great example of collaboration is when Deputy Assistant Secretary Matt Erskine traveled to communities on the West Coast/Rocky Mountain region. He visited a bike factory in Utah, after visiting a composite recycling center in Washington the day before. Utah was looking for ways to discard scrap from bike manufacturing and Deputy Assistant Secretary Erskine was able to connect the factory and recycling center with one another.

On October 7, we celebrate the 5th Annual Manufacturing Day, or as we like to call the month of October here at EDA, "Manufacturing Month."

EDA leadership will continue to travel - to manufacturing communities to amplify the partnerships and collaborative efforts catalyzing change in regions across the country.

Throughout 2015 and 2016, EDA, along with 12 other federal agencies, have traveled across the country in the IMCP Manufacturing Tour. This tour has given federal leadership the opportunity to engage directly with manufacturing communities - including manufacturers, educational institutions, state and local officials, and economic development organizations - and to see firsthand the impact of investments on the ground and discuss challenges and creative solutions to remedying those challenges.

These visits have been impactful and have meant a great deal to manufacturing communities. In the Southwest Alabama region, the community shared how the visit of Assistant Secretary Jay Williams was important to the self-esteem of the community and has effectively brought together the rural and urban communities within that region.

There are many challenges in U.S. manufacturing particularly around workforce development and the lack of skilled workers. I am a proponent of continuing education formally and informally. We are all constantly learning and growing. There are a variety of great paying manufacturing careers that many people are not aware of or have been exposed to. Some often say experience is the best teacher, but I truly feel exposure is the best teacher. There is no better way to become knowledgeable about opportunities and pathways without hearing it and seeing it from manufacturers, state/local officials, educational institutions, and economic development organizations.

Here at EDA, we are taking steps to support manufacturing communities in achieving that greater goal. I am hopeful that through regional collaboration and multifaceted partnerships our nation will take its rightful place as the global leader in manufacturing.

Read below for recent manufacturing success stories in the Southwest Alabama.

Success Story: Rochester Manufacturing Industry Soars with IMCP Designation

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The Greater Rochester/Finger Lakes Region Manufacturing Community in New York.

In May 2014, the Milwaukee Region received a special designation as a “Manufacturing Community” by EDA’s Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) program.

The New York Finger Lakes region IMCP community, led by the city of Rochester, was one of 12 communities that was designated based on the strength of their economic development plans, the potential for impact in their communities, and the depth of their partnerships across the public and private sectors to carry out their plans.

On September 27, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker announced that the community, along with 11 others, was redesignated for an additional two-year term.

The benefits of the program are being felt widely in the region.

For example, with a $110 million seed capital investment from the Department of Defense to help the region recover from the loss of Kodak, the AIM Photonics has attracted $1.4 billion private sector dollars and created 800 manufacturing jobs just a year after launching.

In addition, in August 2016, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker announced that EDA would award $2.6 million in grants to High Tech Rochester, Inc., to establish a business incubator space in a city-owned building. This project is estimated to create 100 new startup businesses and 1,000 new jobs within the first five years of operation.

Read more about the objectives of the Greater Rochester/Finger Lakes Region IMCP Community here. (PDF)

Highlight: U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Redesignates 12 Manufacturing Communities

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Map of 24 IMCP-designated manufacturing communities across the country

On September 27, 2016, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker announced the redesignation of 12 manufacturing communities under the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) initiative. The communities were all initially designated under the first round of the IMCP competition in 2014.

The IMCP is an EDA-led program designed to accelerate the resurgence of manufacturing in communities nationwide by supporting the development of long-term economic development strategies that help communities attract and expand private investment in the manufacturing sector and increase international trade and exports.

To earn the initial designation, communities had to demonstrate the strength of an existing manufacturing industry in their region/community and develop strategies to make investments in six areas: workforce and training; research and innovation; infrastructure and site development; supply chain support; trade and international investment; and operational improvement and capital access.

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3rd Annual National Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) Summit

REGISTER NOW for the 3rd Annual National Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) Summit hosted by the White House and the Economic Development Administration on October 20, 2016 in Washington, D.C. The conference is FREE and open to the public but space is limited. Click here to register. Registration closes at 11:59 p.m. PST on October 14th!


The World’s Economic Developers Convene in Cleveland for Annual Conference

On September 27, 2016, economic developers from around the world convened at the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) 2016 Annual Conference. The conference highlighted best practices and rising trends in economic development and also informed participants of the story of Northern Ohio in becoming a powerhouse economy. This year, IEDC celebrates its 90th anniversary. Learn more about IEDC here.


EDA Participates in 6th Americas Competitiveness Exchange on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (ACE)

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EDA Assistant Secretary Jay Williams participating in the 6th America’s Competitiveness Exchange in Toronto, Canada on September 26, 2016.

Americas Competitiveness Exchange (ACE) Canada 2016 took place from September 25, 2016-October 1, 2016 in Canada. The objective of ACE is to showcase successful examples of entrepreneurship, innovation, strategic investments and public-private partnerships from a specific region/country that contribute to the economic development at the local, national and regional levels. Cities included in the ACE 6 tour were Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo, Hamilton and the Niagara Region. EDA Assistant Secretary Jay Williams participated in a panel focused on the federal innovation agenda and Ontario's innovation policies. A list of ACE 6 participants can be found here.


EDA Grant Sparking Food, Jobs and Dreams Growth in East Baltimore

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EDA Assistant Secretary Jay Williams and Philadelphia Regional Office Economic Development Representative Alma Plummer participate in the groundbreaking of The Baltimore Food Hub in East Baltimore on September 20, 2016.

On September 20, 2016, EDA was proud to join American Communities Trust, the Historic East Baltimore Community Action Coalition (HEBCAC), and city leaders at the Baltimore Food Hub groundbreaking in Maryland. EDA invested $1 million to assist the HEBCAC in the development of the new, state-of-the-art culinary center for training and technical assistance to micro-business owners and emerging entrepreneurs in East Baltimore focused on the food industry. To see additional coverage of the groundbreaking, visit the Baltimore Magazine.


NACIE 3.0 Takes Baton for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

What does an entrepreneurial beverage company, corporate innovators, a community college in rural West Virginia, world-class universities, and venture firms have in common? They are among the 30+ organizations represented by innovators who were selected to advise the U.S. Secretary of Commerce as part of the third membership cycle of the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (NACIE). Read more about NACIE 3.0 here.


Leaders Discuss Expanding Economic Growth and Opportunity in Cities and Neighborhoods at Johns Hopkins’ Symposium

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EDA Assistant Secretary Jay Williams joins Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts, Tom Geddes, CEO of Plank Industries, and Professor Adriana Kugler from Georgetown University's McCourt School of Public Policy in economic growth and inclusion panel at Johns Hopkins University on September 15, 2016.

"Having a vision, having a plan is critical for cities in moving forward," said EDA Assistant Secretary Williams during a September 15 panel discussion entitled “Doing Well by Doing Good: Economic Growth and Inclusion” at the “21st Century Neighborhoods: Research. Leadership. Transformation” hosted by Johns Hopkins University at the American Visionary Arts Museum in Baltimore, Md. On the panel, Assistant Secretary Williams was joined by Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts, Tom Geddes, CEO of Plank Industries, and Professor Adriana Kugler from Georgetown University's McCourt School of Public Policy. The Symposium agenda is available here.


EDA Meets Louisiana on the Ground to Support Disaster Recovery Efforts

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EDA Assistant Secretary Jay Williams greets Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards before a discussion on disaster recovery efforts after severe flooding in Baton Rouge.

From September 13-14, 2016, EDA Assistant Secretary Williams and EDA staff visited Baton Rouge, La. to assess the recent flooding’s economic impact and identify ways that EDA can support recovery efforts. During the visit, Assistant Secretary Williams met with Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, the Louisiana Economic Development, FEMA and SBA representatives, and local farmers. More photos from the trip here. image