Late last month the Obama administration and U.S. Department of Commerce were busy awarding economic development grants throughout the nation including Colorado. The Office of Economic Development and International Trade was the recipient of a $200,000 grant to “…develop an implementation plan needed to establish an Advanced Industries Manufacturing Institute that will support business development and foster economic growth in the state.”

According to the official release, OEDIT “…has targeted seven key industries for this effort: advanced manufacturing, aerospace, bioscience, electronics, energy, infrastructure engineering and technology. The implementation plan will ultimately help establish an Advanced Industries Manufacturing Institute to drive growth in these sectors.” It’s been reported this new entity will focus on job training and workforce issues.

We’ll hear from OEDIT next week, but it’s very interesting to learn how other states view their manufacturing-sector challenges through the programs that also received grants and investments last month. The Colorado announcement was followed by news of a first round of awards from the Obama administration’s “Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership” program.

Among the $7 million dollars in grants and investments to entities in our region:

· $200,000 to Wichita State University to develop a comprehensive economic development strategy to identify, verify, refine, and prioritize key tactical manufacturing ecosystem investments and strategically align resources to support the region’s advanced manufacturing sector.

· $200,000 to the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah to build a cluster-based development strategy to bring innovation, growth, and sustainability to the state’s advanced composites industry cluster through increased access to capital, research, global markets, and an enhanced innovation ecosystem.

· $200,000 to the Butte Local Development Corporation of Butte, Montana to establish the Montana Center of Manufacturing Technology at the Mike Mansfield Advanced Technology Center. The Center will leverage existing assets and facilitate collaboration between private and public entities to provide long-term economic and job growth solutions.

· $200,000 to the Campus Research Corporation of Tucson, Arizona to support the Border Technology Manufacturing Initiative, a regional planning group consisting of industry, workforce development, local government, and academia that will identify existing strengths and gaps in a 13-county region that spans the US/Mexico border from Yuma, Arizona to Las Cruces, New Mexico. 

· $200,000 to the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership of Palm Springs, California to develop an implementation-ready strategy to enhance the region’s capacity to attract and expand private investment in the manufacturing sector and increase international trade and exports.

· $140,000 to Yuma County, Arizona to develop a manufacturing strategy for Yuma County to help increase higher-skilled, higher-wage jobs by capitalizing on the county’s location along the U.S. – Mexico border.

· $171,864 to the Greater Phoenix Economic Council of Phoenix, Arizona to develop strategies to implement the Innovation and Commercialization Center for Advanced Manufacturing (ICCAM), a non-profit public-private partnership that will focus on helping the region grow its advanced manufacturing sector while preparing workers for related jobs.

· $178,750 to California State University at Fresno in Fresno, California to support the San Joaquin Valley Agricultural Manufacturing Investment Strategy and Sustainability Plan, which will move the region further toward value-added agriculture and help create and grow food manufacturing companies in the region.

· $135,000 to the Mid-Columbia Economic Development District of The Dalles, Oregon, to develop a strategic implementation plan in support of manufacturing businesses in the five-county bi-state Mid-Columbia region of Oregon and Washington.

· $100,000 to China Lake Technologies, LLC of Ridgecrest, California to develop a strategy to create new jobs in the region in the emerging bio-products industry. The strategy will work to build upon the region’s strong aviation, space and military presence, as well as their strength in agriculture.

Manufacturing’s clearly not an afterthought in the regional economic competition.