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Obama should consider a visit to region for Maker City event

Published: 7/27/14 @ 12:00


President Barack Obama has pub- licly mentioned the Mahoning Valley’s trailblazing work in additive manufacturing on at least three occasions, but not once has he done so from downtown Youngstown, where America Makes is attracting national and international attention — and securing public and private funding.

But that could change if the president happened on hand for the Youngstown Maker City Initiative, a four-day event beginning Thursday that is expected to attract 400 guests from around the country.

Why should Obama even consider making an appearance at this technological extravaganza? Because it’s his administration’s foresight that has additive manufacturing hubs such as the one on West Boardman Street researching, developing and implementing new manufacturing processes.

America Makes, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, is setting the standard for 3-D printing, advanced manufacturing and workforce development.

A consortium of 70 universities, led by Youngstown State, private companies and nonprofit organizations, participated in a national competition that included Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and won the $30 million federal grant to establish the first additive manufacturing hub in the country. Members of the consortium put up $40 million.

America Makes is getting a well-earned reputation for its research into the manufacturing process using 3-D printers. A product is made through the layering of plastic, metals and resins by a printer.

Cutting-edge research

Given the cost and time involved in traditional manufacturing processes, the cutting-edge research being done in Youngstown has prompted President Obama to announce that additive manufacturing hubs and other high-tech manufacturing institutes will be established throughout the country.

And to think that it all began in the Mahoning Valley.

The president deserves to take a bow in Youngstown, which is why he should be invited by Congressman Tim Ryan of Howland, D-13th, one of the architects of the Pittsburgh-Youngstown-Cleveland consortium, Youngstown Mayor James A. McNally and the commissioners from Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties.

The Youngstown Maker City Initiative, which will bring Make: magazine to host a “3-D Printer Shootout,” isn’t about partisan politics or the November general election.

It’s about spotlighting a region that played such vital role in the industrial growth of the nation by virtue of its being one of the leading steel-making areas in America.

Today, the Valley is well positioned to lead the way in the revival of manufacturing in the U.S.