Feds single out Wichita as possible hub of future manufacturing development

WICHITA, Kansas – U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker announced Wednesday that South Kansas is one of 12 designated “manufacturing communities” as part of the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership program, or IMCP.

The proposed program prioritizes public investment in research and innovation as the catalytic element to improve support for existing advanced manufacturing businesses and workers, and to build on and strengthen the region’s competitive edge in attracting global manufacturers.

“Our goal through the IMCP is to secure south central Kansas as a global leader in advanced materials, ensuring increased high-wage employment opportunities for Kansans,” said Wichita State University President John Bardo.

South Kansas is one of 12 regions to receive the designation in phase two of the IMCP. The proposal was submitted by Wichita State in partnership with local government, industry, economic development organizations and other community groups.

Debbie Franklin, director of business development for WSU’s Office of Research and Technology Transfer, coordinated the regional task force and application.

“Our investment strategy builds on regional strengths and addresses gaps in our advanced manufacturing ecosystem,” Franklin said.

“Development of this infrastructure will allow Wichita to attract private investment from new and existing manufacturers,” said John Tomblin, interim vice president for research and technology transfer at WSU. “It will allow the university to carry on its strategic plan to be a model for applied learning and research.”

The proposed program will allow for the accelerated insertion of advanced materials and automation in to the production process and bring together large and small business, defense contractors, research entities, university researchers, students, support organizations and government agencies to accelerate innovation by investing industrially relevant advanced manufacturing technologies.

Last September in phase one of the IMCP, Wichita received $200,000 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.

The IMCP is a critical component of the Department of Commerce’s “Open for Business Agenda,” which prioritizes trade and investment.

Wichita State University President, Dr. John Bardo spoke with KSN News about the recognition.

“If you want to be part of rebuilding manufacturing, there’s only 12 places in the country you ought to be going, and we’re one of those 12. Yesterday, we weren’t,” said Dr. John Bardo.

The recognition however, is not a “cure all” to the region’s recent layoffs.

“This money isn’t going to be something that – tomorrow they’re going to have a job because of this,” continued Dr. Bardo. “It’s not the nature of it.”

According to WSU President Dr. Bardo, the opportunity is going to be about training, education, new products, new processes, new patents, new businesses, as well as supporting existing businesses in the region.

The first 12 Manufacturing Communities designated by the IMCP are:

1. Southwest Alabama
2. Southern California
3. Northwest Georgia
4. The Chicago metro region
5. South Kansas (Wichita State University)
6. Greater Portland region in Maine
7. Southeastern Michigan
8. The New York Finger Lakes region
9. Southwestern Ohio Aerospace Region
10. The Tennessee Valley
11. The Washington Puget Sound region
12. The Milwaukee 7 Region

How did South Kansas land on top of the list? According to federal requirements for consideration, the region had to demonstrate the significance of manufacturing in the area, and develop strategies to make investments in six areas, including:

1. Workforce and training
2. Advanced research
3. Infrastructure and site development
4. Supply chain support
5. Trade and international investment, and
6. Operational improvement and capital access.

RELATED LINKS:

WSU – New designation could mean federal money for region: Click here for the press release

Click here for more details on the program

Click here for a breakdown on why Kansas was selected

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