Guest blog post by Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and Director of the National Economic Council Jeff Zients: Cross-posted from Whitehouse.gov
At the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership Summit in Washington, D.C. last week, the Department of Commerce and 11 federal agencies with over $1.3 billion in economic development funding brought together more than 300 people from across the country to share best practices in building local competitiveness and to launch the second round of the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership competition.
The Obama administration launched the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership initiative in 2013 to build on the momentum in manufacturing we have seen over the last several years. Since February 2010, the manufacturing sector has created over 700,000 jobs and has grown nearly twice as fast as the overall economy. And with weekly hours in manufacturing at their highest since World War II, the sector appears poised for more jobs and growth, helping make the United States more competitive today than it has been in decades.
The Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership is an initiative that aims to spur communities to develop integrated, long-term economic development strategies that sharpen their competitive edge in attracting global manufacturers and their supply chains to our local communities -- increasing investment and creating jobs. Specifically, the program brings together the resources of multiple federal departments and agencies to support strong local economic development plans.
At the first-ever Summit, the 12 communities designated "manufacturing communities" under the first Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership national competition shared best practices and an update on the hard work underway in their communities to strengthen manufacturing with other communities looking to grow their own manufacturing sectors.
Building on the strength of their local economic development strategies in manufacturing, the 12 communities are attracting new public and private investments in their communities, including over $100 million in new federal economic development investments. For instance, Southern California's designation as a manufacturing community helped Chaffey College secure a $15 million grant from the U.S. Departments of Labor and Education to create an advanced manufacturing training center, which will train workers for the highly technical, highly skilled jobs needed to grow the industry and the economy of the region. The Greater Portland, ME Region, organized by the Puget Sound Regional Council, was awarded a $4.3 million grant from the Department of Defense to transition Washington state's defense-sector advanced manufacturing capabilities over to new applications.
Wichita State University in Kansas received a grant from the Commerce Department's Economic Development Administration to purchase laboratory equipment to explore new techniques for advanced manufacturing that could have untold implications for innovation down the road. And the Department of Transportation has made infrastructure investments aimed at spurring local economic development and access to jobs in Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership communities across the country -- including $20 million to upgrade and expand the Port of Seattle.
We are launching the second round of the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership competition to build on these successes and replicate them in 12 more communities across the country. Designated communities will receive a dedicated federal point of contact and additional consideration for over $1.3 billion in aligned federal economic development funding.
Information on how to apply will be posted at EDA.gov in the coming weeks.
We heard from several applicants in the last round that the process of applying itself spurred partners from across their communities to come together to develop a shared vision and strategy for growth was helpful, despite not receiving a designation. We hope that those communities will reapply and be joined by others.
The success of Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership is measured not by the number of designations, but by the number of communities inspired to create effective partnerships, manage their supply chain, and build a skilled workforce in order to grow their region's economy. The country's economy is built on a foundation of local successes -- and it is through the strengths of local communities that we will compete for and win future growth in manufacturing.