In an example of interstate cooperation to create jobs and spur investment, 20 organizations from Southwestern Pennsylvania, Southeastern Ohio and Central-Northern West Virginia recently submitted a proposal to develop opportunities created by energy production and efficient delivery to end users.
Make it in America Challenge, the proposed Manufacturing Power Network (MPN) focuses on two industry sectors:
- Energy production and delivery, with opportunities presented by shale gas in a pursuit of energy independence, which is also opening up new opportunities in the Chemical sector.
- Advanced Manufacturing, which has been jump-started in the region through the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute and the region's emerging strength in the Robotics sector.
Led by Catalyst Connection, the Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board, and the West Virginia Manufacturing Extension Partnership, the $4.1 million proposal outlined the creation of the Manufacturing Power Network, which grew out of efforts by the Power of 32 project, a recent three-year initiative that identified ways to encourage regional cooperation and development.
The MPN has been developed with the goal of providing a seamless and responsive network for manufacturers to access a host of services as they contemplate on-shoring and domestic retention of manufacturing activities.
According to Petra Mitchell, President and CEO of the Catalyst Connection, regional interstate economic development is very important.
"The Manufacturing Power Network is unique because it crosses state lines," Mitchell said. "Integrating three states, particularly around energy, makes sense. We have an energy economy with the Shale Gas production. Manufacturers aren't looking at state lines, they are looking for customers that need what they have." We want to expand that geography, which would be good for everybody in the region."
The Manufacturing Partner Network has submitted a compelling proposal, and whether or not the team receives grant funding, the P32+ region has already benefited, she said.
"The concept of the partnership is going to live with or without the grant funding," claims Mitchell. "We have already convened and discussed strategies for supporting manufacturing in the region. There is going to be a lot of benefit from the process; the interaction will continue and the region will benefit from our efforts."
The Make it in America Challenge was jointly issued by the Economic Development Administration, the Employment and Training Administration, and the National Institute for Standards and Testing.
"The conversation on regional interstate economic development is becoming more robust, deeper and more collaborative," says David Satterfield, Interim Director, West Virginia Manufacturing Extension Partnership. "We are seeing that many of our challenges and opportunities are similar. The Power of 32 is changing some of the systemic thinking and the ways we are acting and interacting. We have a greater value and greater leverage as a region."
According to Satterfield, the MPN "will identify partners and suppliers that could move closer together to save costs in the supply chain; take advantage of an inventory of regional "switch ready" buildings; and provide comprehensive workforce training, including custom OJT for high-demand occupations."
Source: Power of 32