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Obama Administration Awards $20M in Grants to Support U.S. Manufacturing
Investments reportedly will promote job creation, economic growth in local industries of nine states

By SHRM Online staff  10/18/2012
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The Obama administration announced Oct. 10, 2012, that 10 public-private partnerships across the U.S. will receive $20 million in total awards to help revitalize American manufacturing and encourage companies to invest in the United States.

The 10 partnerships were selected through the Advanced Manufacturing Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge, which is a competitive multiagency grant process announced in May 2012 to support initiatives that strengthen advanced manufacturing at the local level. These public-private partnerships comprise small and large businesses, colleges, nonprofits and other local stakeholders that “cluster” in a particular area.

Among the federal agencies sponsoring the challenge are the departments of Labor, Commerce and Energy, as well as the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the National Science Foundation.

“By partnering across the federal government, these grants will help us leverage resources and ensure that training programs for advanced manufacturing careers provide the skills, certifications and credentials that employers want to see from day one,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis, in a statement announcing the awarded grants.

The Obama administration has invested more than $200 million to promote regional innovation clusters. The administration created an interagency task force, known as the Taskforce for the Advancement of Regional Innovation Clusters, to develop and administer interagency grant competitions. This is the third round of the challenge. The funds will help the winning clusters support local efforts to spur job creation through a variety of projects, including initiatives that do the following:

  • Connect innovative small suppliers with large companies.
  • Link research with the startups that can commercialize new ideas.
  • Train workers in skills that firms need to capitalize on business opportunities.

Specifically, the awards will help regional clusters grow as follows:

  • Strengthening their connections to regional economic development opportunities and advanced manufacturing assets.
  • Helping develop a skilled and diverse advanced manufacturing workforce.
  • Increasing exports.
  • Encouraging the development of small businesses.
  • Accelerating innovation in technology.

“This investment will help accelerate and unleash the most promising ideas in advanced manufacturing and bring those ideas to market,” said acting U.S. Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank. “This will lead to good jobs for American workers, increase the nation’s competitiveness, and strengthen an economy that’s built to last.”

Approximately $2 million will fund winning initiatives based in Arizona, California, Michigan, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Washington. These projects are expected to train a total of 1,000 workers and help nearly 650 companies leverage resources in their regions, thereby creating jobs across the country.

“The SBA pioneered the federal government’s first regional cluster strategy two years ago, and we’ve already seen the tangible benefits of these investments, including job creation, innovation and increased competitiveness,” said SBA Administrator Karen Mills. “These 10 new advanced manufacturing jobs and innovation accelerators are proof that we can continue to build on—and complement—the success that we’ve already achieved and support strong ecosystems of small businesses in targeted regions throughout the country and across key industries.”

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