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$70M Youngstown hub to spur manufacturing across U.S.

Published: Fri, August 17, 2012 @ 12:01 a.m.




A $70 million vision to revolutionize America’s ability to compete globally and restore some of the millions of manufacturing jobs lost in the last decade will set up shop in downtown Youngstown starting next month.

It’s ambitious:

Sixty-plus partners teaming up, with a projection of 7,200 regional jobs created over the coming years, officials project.

But this is more than just a regional impact, said one top Obama administration official.

“This is not just about putting together hub jobs from Northeast Ohio to West Virginia; it’s about putting together an example for the future of the industry,” said Gene Sperling, director of the White House National Economic Council.

He was among more than 200 industry and government leaders taking part in the announcement Thursday at M-7 Technologies in Youngstown.

“This is a strategy to restore strong middle-class jobs and a strategy for a new era of American manufacturing,” said Sperling.

It’s a lot of money and a lot of organizations that came together for a first-of-its kind pilot program — winning a national competition that started in May and beat 12 national proposals, including those from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Georgia Tech University.

Sperling led a federal delegation to announce its ante: a $30 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense.

That will be merged with $40 million invested by a consortium of more than 60 private and public entities, including nine research universities. All of it is geared toward research and development to cut industrial costs and produce products faster.

Known as the National Additive Manufacturing Institute, it will move into a 12,000-square-foot building on West Boardman Street — an annex of the Youngstown Business Incubator.

The strategy will focus on additive manufacturing, which curbs manufacturing costs and boosts production by using computers to measure and blueprint a part or product.

The blueprint is then transmitted to nearby machinery that builds up an object by adding material, rather than removing it, as in traditional manufacturing.

In May, the federal government issued a request for proposals on how best to go forward with such technology. The more than 60 regional members of the consortium are led by the western Pennsylvania-based National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining, which was joined by Youngstown State University, Case Western Reserve University and Carnegie Mellon University in first writing the grant proposal.

As a result, the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining estimates that, in the long-run, 7,200 regional jobs will be created as part of the new hub.

It will start small though. By next year, estimates for jobs created or sustained in Youngstown range between 10 and 20.

But more importantly, said Eric Planey, vice president of international business attraction for Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, a “trickle effect” will take place for area manufacturers in the coming years.

“Down the road, many area manufacturers will be able to implement this new technology in their shops and spaces,” said Planey. “There will be major support right here in Youngstown, and it will allow the industry here to stay ahead of, or with, the curve.”

The hub is also expected to attract a steady stream of executives and research professionals to the area, as much of the consortium’s testing efforts, market-ready products and research will be conducted and built at the West Boardman site.

Because YSU’s place in being one of the consortium’s earliest partners, the manufacturing hub should greatly enhance its credibility as an urban research university.

“It’s a huge opportunity in terms of educating our students,” said Martin Abraham, dean of YSU’s College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

“It will give us unprecedented access to advanced manufacturing technologies with a great capability to provide first-rate training and work force development.”

Additive manufacturing has its primary applications in the defense, aerospace and biomedical industries. It has been hailed as a key to both national and economic security. Within three years, the pilot program in Youngstown is expected to be entirely self-sufficient and require no federal or state money.

Overall, if the pilot program here proves to be efficient, the federal government hopes to establish up to 15 similar consortiums nationwide.

The incubator was selected as the program’s headquarters because of its experience in commercializing software start-up companies and its proximity to the YSU campus, which Darrell Wallace, a YSU professor of mechanical and industrial engineering, says has a rich history of working with manufacturers of all size.

After years of relative instability in the region’s manufacturing industry, senior Obama administration officials at the announcement said the spotlight would once again be back on the Valley, which they said is uniquely positioned to launch a cutting-edge initiative expected to change the face of American manufacturing.

The country seeks to regain some of the 5 million manufacturing jobs it lost between 2000 and 2010.

“The future is an open book,” said U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-17th. “We’ve been for 30 years, all of our communities, in one way or another, looking for a way forward. I think today we found it. The future is not thrust upon us — we shape the future.”


1DwightK(1399 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

The biggest problem in the Mahoning Valley isn't crime, blight or drugs. Those are all symptoms of a high unemployment rate. Getting jobs here is the number one priority and this manufacturing hub is a continuation of efforts that have been ongoing for the past decade.

If you get jobs here and lower the unemployment rate crime goes down. People who have jobs they don't want to lose don't engage in drug abuse and crime. Blight goes away as demand for housing and business property goes up.

Attracting jobs cures our problems.

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2PAborn(21 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

The biggest problem in the Mahoning Valley is the continuing negative attitude of the residents. It's time to embrace change and progress and new ways of thinking. Take a trip to some of the other cities that have, or are in the process of, reinventing themselves, like Akron or Pittsburgh. See what can be done when a city is not stuck in the past, griping about bad luck.

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3anothermike(221 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

Have to agree with "DwightK"....if a person has the opportunity to get a liveable permanent wage job, chances are he will opt for that instead of running the risk of going to prison for breaking the law every day. Sooner or later he will be caught or killed, that's the payoff for career criminals and always has been........

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4James_S(268 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

"For decades our politicians have promised us that the "free trade" agenda would bring us greater prosperity than ever before. They insisted that merging our economy into the emerging one world economy would cause millions upon millions of new jobs to be added to the U.S. economy. Unfortunately, it was all a giant lie. Trading with other countries is not a bad thing as long as the level of trade is fairly equal on both sides. When trade becomes very unequal, the consequences can be absolutely catastrophic. Since 1975, the United States has bought more than 8 trillion dollars more stuff from the rest of the world than they have bought from us. We are the only economy on earth that could have had 8 trillion dollars drained out of it and still be standing. Instead of leaving the country, those 8 trillion dollars could have gone to U.S. businesses and U.S. workers. If we could go back and have a "do over", how much more prosperous would we be today if we had kept that 8 trillion dollars inside the country?"

excerpt from

P.S.- I couldn't agree more

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5Spiderlegs(154 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

Have to agree that there is too much negativism over this. The solution to urban blight is not to increase the number of police, but eradicate it with jobs. I've learned to be skeptical of rosy scenario, but even if the consortium is partially correct and only 1,000 jobs come to the area, it will be quite a change, not counting all the diffusion of money (and even more jobs) in the service sector. Keep in mind that these are not old-time manufacturing jobs in declining industries but high-tech jobs--part of the current era. We need to think of all the implications in addition to jobs: (1) more tax revenue, (2) people buying and repairing houses, (3) students staying in the area after graduation rather than leaving, (4) improved science programs at YSU. I'm trying hard to find something about this that I don't like, and I'm not finding anything. I applaud the consortium that assembled the winning bid.

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6sue(176 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

Where were Timmy and Sherrod when the 1200 jobs were lost at RG Steel. Also, they obviously have no influence with the Obozo administration who screwed 20,000 Delphi retirees.

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7southsidedave(5126 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

Some great news for the region!

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8Lifes2Short(3879 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

Wow, so many negative comments. Are you people ever "happy"? I'll hate to be so miserable all the time.

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9Ret(39 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

I truly hope that this is the job creator that it is being made out to be, I wish I understood the technology behind this project better. Right now to me it sounds like science fiction, sort of like the replicators on the Starship Enterprise. I have a had time visualizing how machine parts can be manufacture with out any tooling. I would be open minded to anyone hear who would like to take a shot at explaining it to me. I'm not trying to be negative, I just truly do not understand the technology.

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10okiemon(1 comment)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

Just a picky comment from a frustrated editor: there's no such school as "Georgia Tech University". Check out their website for the real name!

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11southsidedave(5126 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

This a great day for the region...be happy!

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