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$26 Million Competition to Help Accelerate Growth of Advanced Manufacturing and Clusters

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$26 Million Competition to Help Accelerate Growth of Advanced Manufacturing and Clusters

Guest blog post by Matt Erskine, Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development, and Dr. Patrick Gallagher, Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology

Manufacturing, especially advanced manufacturing based on new technologies, is a sector of vital importance to America’s economic viability—both to businesses and the people they employ. A recent study conducted by the Department of Commerce bears this out: Manufacturing is responsible for 70 percent of our private-sector research and development (R&D), 90 percent of our patents, and 60 percent of our exports. And the benefits accrue to manufacturing workers, since they earn pay and benefits that are about 17 percent higher than average.

That is why the $26 million Advanced Manufacturing Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge, supported by 14 Federal agencies and announced today by the Obama administration, is so important.

The Advanced Manufacturing Jobs Accelerator is a competition to help grow industry clusters by strengthening connections to regional economic development opportunities; enhance a region’s capacity to create high-quality sustainable jobs; develop a skilled advanced manufacturing workforce; encourage the development of small businesses; and accelerate technological innovation. 

At the Department of Commerce, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Economic Development Administration (EDA) are leveraging resources, along with the Departments of Energy and Labor, the Small Business Administration (SBA), and the National Science Foundation, to support public-private partnerships to spur economic and job growth in manufacturing clusters. Approximately 12 projects are expected to be chosen. This is the third in a series of multiagency Jobs and Innovation Accelerator challenges since 2011.

Winners of the 2011 challenge, which was funded by EDA, the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, and the SBA, have already begun to foster business growth and create jobs. For example, in the Greater Kansas City area, eight regional organizations joined together to form the Kansas City Jobs Accelerator. This organization is helping the advanced manufacturing and information technology cluster in the bi-state region by identifying game-changing technologies and processes and putting them in the hands of small businesses and talented entrepreneurs. Their tactics include coordinating research resources, helping prepare workers for careers in advanced manufacturing, and creating a clearinghouse for regional cluster and commercialization information.

In Rochester, New York, a 2011 Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge grant to Rochester Institute of Technology’s Center for Integrated Manufacturing Studies is helping this organization partner with regional organizations to support a successful, robust food processing cluster in the Finger Lakes region of New York State. They are doing so by helping companies with such practical matters as providing technical assistance on production processes and testing, and aiding in the development of a skilled workforce that is needed to support this growing industry cluster.

This initiative is a key component of President Obama’s plan to ensure we build products here and sell them everywhere. The White House launched the Taskforce for the Advancement of Regional Innovation Clusters (TARIC) a few years ago to accelerate cluster growth, particularly in manufacturing.

After decades of losing manufacturing jobs, the manufacturing sector has grown strongly and been adding jobs for over two years. In the past 25 months manufacturing has added nearly a half million new jobs and 120,000 of those came in the first three months of this year. 

This is good news, but it doesn’t mean that we can afford to sit back. In June 2011, President Obama announced the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership and, this year, a $45 million pilot program aimed at promoting collaboration between government and industry in order to encourage innovation in manufacturing.

This Advanced Manufacturing Jobs Accelerator supports U.S. manufacturers—by helping to provide them with the infrastructure and trained workforce they need to grow and compete in the world economy.

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Matching funds?

The material and Application aren't clear about "matching funds." Is that a requirement?

A minimum match is required for both EDA and DOE funds

Neither cost sharing nor matching contributions are required for NIST, ETA or SBA funds through this Federal Funding Opportunity.

However, a minimum match is required for both EDA and DOE funds.

Additional details on EDA and DOE matching requirements can be found below:

What is the minimum match required for the EDA portion of funds?
Applicants must demonstrate a Matching Share (cash, in-kind, or a combination of cash and in-kind contributions), which must be available and committed to the project from non-Federal sources. The FFO states that projects may receive up to 80 percent of total project costs, based on the relative needs of the region in which the project will be located, as determined by EDA. EDA will give preference to proposals with higher Matching Shares to further leverage Federal funds and help ensure additional project impact. Applicants must submit Matching Share Commitment Letters at the time of application. For more information about EDA’s matching requirements, see section 204(a) of PWEDA (42 U.S.C. § 3144) and 13 C.F.R. §§ 300.3 and 301.4(b)(1).

What is the minimum match required for the DOE portion of funds?

The terms “cost sharing” and “cost matching” are often used synonymously. Even the DOE Financial Assistance Regulations, 10 CFR Part 600, use both of the terms in the titles specific to regulations applicable to cost sharing. DOE almost always uses the term “cost sharing,” as it conveys the concept that non-federal share is calculated as a percentage of the Total Project Cost. An exception is the State Energy Program Regulation, 10 CFR Part 420.12, State Matching Contribution. Here “cost matching” for the non-federal share is calculated as a percentage of the federal funds only, rather than the Total Project Cost.

The minimum cost share must be at least 20 percent of the total allowable costs for R&D projects and 50 percent of the total allowable costs for demonstration and commercial application projects and must come from non-Federal sources unless otherwise allowed by law. The sum of the Government share, including FFRDC contractor costs if applicable, and the recipient share of allowable costs equals the total allowable cost of the project. (See 10 CFR part 600 for the applicable cost sharing requirements.)

manufacturing jobs and innovation challenge

I am preparing a application in response to the manufacturing jobs and innovation challenge FOA.

Within this application I am proposing the employment of 45 to 50 full-time unemployed skilled and unskilled workers in PG County Maryland, that will be constructing Energy Star energy efficient modular homes with integrated geothermal and solar systems built in them.

I have a rough business template and cost estimate for these manufacturing jobs that will integrate the energy efficient homes with renewable energy systems. But as a small minority firm of one, my question is can you make any suggestions as to whom I should contact to gain access to regional industry clusters. So I can pin down my actual project cost, in-addition to whom I should contact at the State or local government level that can assist me with the application.

William Thorne
Owner
THe LAUNDRY MAT llc

Contact MBDA

Your best bet is to start with the Minority Business Development Agency (www.mbda.gov) since they can connect you to others in your area. You can start here - http://www.mbda.gov/main/business-services