A multimillion-dollar grant, expected to be announced this morning at M-7 Technologies, could shift manufacturing in the Mahoning Valley to the national forefront and secure economic stability in the industry for years to come, sources say.
The event is so important that senior Obama administration officials will be here as part of the announcement. Gene Sperling, director, National Economic Council; Rebecca Blank, acting U.S. Commerce secretary, and Under Secretary of Defense Frank Kendall will be on hand from 9:30 to 11:30 at the M-7 campus, 1019 Ohio Works Drive.
A media roundtable event, related to boosting exports and manufacturing in the city, also will take place.
Although the specifics of the announcement remain unclear, several sources have speculated on a multimillion-dollar grant for area manufacturing efforts and M-7, a high-performance manufacturing outfit that specializes in advanced technologies and research and development related to reducing industrial costs.
Although the company’s main business is making and repairing equipment for steel mills, it works across several industries, including the aerospace and defense industries, which provides a clue on the nature of this morning’s announcement.
In a letter obtained by The Vindicator, written by several members of Ohio’s Congressional delegation to the Air Force Research Laboratory at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, strong support was expressed for the Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute Pilot Program.
According to the letter, a grant proposal for the pilot program was supported by seven universities and several community colleges in Pennsylvania and Ohio, including Youngstown State University, Eastern Gateway Community College, the University of Akron and Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.
The proposed institute, wrote the members of Congress, would be ideal for the so-called “TechBelt” region of Pennsylvania, Northeast Ohio and West Virginia, which they said has a strong history of manufacturing innovation.
A TechBelt Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, the letter states, would “engage the entire national Manufacturing Extension Partnership network, approach manufacturing training from technician through graduate level and build an infrastructure of physical resources and applied research directed by the needs of industry partners.”
Furthermore, leading the grant proposal is the Western Pennsylvania-based National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining, which conducts work similar to M-7 Technologies by optimizing manufacturing solutions and costs that help expedite the deployment of current and yet-to-be developed defense systems.
On Wednesday, an official from the center, who wished to remain anonymous, due to an “information embargo” on the event, confirmed that representatives from the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining will be at the announcement in Youngstown.
And as early as Tuesday, sources were unwilling to discuss the details of today’s announcement, saying only that the event will be “big news” or a “major deal” for the Mahoning Valley.
However, educators from Youngstown State University, such as Darrell Wallace, an assistant professor of industrial and system engineering, and Laura Meeks, president of Eastern Gateway Community College, said they were aware of the announcement and would be in attendance.
“It’s big, that’s all I can say,” Meeks said. “I can’t divulge anymore information, and I don’t want to break any news yet.”