YOUNGSTOWN - A $69 million manufacturing initiative sought by a dozen other communities across the country will be headquartered in Youngstown, it was announced Thursday by an entourage of top White House officials and others.
The initiative will be housed in the Youngstown Business Incubator's 12,000-square-foot Boardman Street Annex.
President Barack Obama announced the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation Initiative on March 9 as a federal program to increase exports and global competitiveness in the industry.
The federal program promotes additive manufacturing, which builds materials layer by layer with no waste and is capable of creating complex and highly specialized shapes that can be fitted to a specific machine or tool.
Under Secretary of Defense Frank Kendall, who helped make Thursday's announcement, said the process is 10 times less expensive than conventional materials manufacturing methods, like using molds, adding that cost control and advances in weapons manufacturing are valuable assets for the Department of Defense.
"A robust manufacturing capability is essential to national defense," he said.
Looking at a fabricated wing structure at M-7 Technology Thursday morning are Obama administration officials, from left, Gene Sperling, Frank Kendall, Rebecca Blank and Ralph Resnick.
He said the expectation is that the project will be self-sustaining in less than three years.
M-7 Technologies, on Ohio Works Drive, played host to Thursday's announcement by White House National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling, acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank and Kendall. Also there were U.S. Rep. Timothy J. Ryan, D-Niles, and U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, as the Youngstown Business Incubator announced it has been selected as the site for the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute. Federal funds will provide $30 million.
"We are here today, a group of people united in the belief that the United States can and will have a renaissance in manufacturing," Sperling said.
Thirteen regional consortiums competed for the nod, including groups led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Georgia Tech University, Virginia Tech University and the Edison Welding Institute in Columbus.
The effort to build the winning proposal came from a group of university, private sector and government resources who, according to YBI Chief Executive Officer Jim Cossler, ''met for a solid week at YBI.''
Several recent collaborative efforts would seem to have placed the Tech Belt regional consortium ahead of the curve, representatives from several offices said.
In 2007, Ryan and U.S. Rep Jason Altmire of Pennsylvania conceived the Tech Belt Initiative to re-establish the region's commitment to manufacturing and technology through collaborative efforts among educational institutions and businesses.
In 2009, Youngstown State University, one of the new NAMII partners, received $11.7 million in state and federal research grants, the biggest of which was a $2.1 million grant to the chemistry department to fund the Center of Excellence in Advanced Materials Analysis through the Third Frontier Initiative from the Ohio Department of Development.
Another $1.3 million from the U.S. Department of Defense went to the chemistry department also to fund the National Defense Center of Excellence in Industrial Metrology and 3D Imaging. YSU has been conducting research in these two areas in a partnership with M-7 Technologies. Additive manufacturing is also known as 3D printing.
The renovation project for the Boardman Street Annex will be funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development through an earmark secured by Ryan, the City of Youngstown and the Youngstown Foundation.
Lisa Camp, associate dean of the School of Engineering at Case Western Reserve University, said the designation of responsibilities and allocation of grant funds was not spelled out in the bid proposal and that companies and institutions will competitively bid for funds based on their various needs and roles, which will be determined in the months to come.
The bid effort for the NAMII award was largely spearheaded by Ralph Resnick of the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining office in Latrobe, Pa. That office will be transferring several machines and a good deal of manufacturing technology software to the Annex building, as well as workers to operate it, though more may be hired as needed.
Amy Good of the NCDMM said they estimate creation of anywhere between 500 to 1000 jobs in advanced materials manufacturing over the next three years, though could not specify how many would be in the Valley.
Sperling said the manufacturing industry has seen an increase of 530,000 jobs in the last 29 months, the best increase rate in 25 years. He said 50,000 of those have been in Ohio.
Good said that an employment uptick from the NAMII project would be very likely as new businesses related to this technology begin to move to the area.