Today, the Commerce Department's Economic Development Administration (EDA) announced the next round of competition for designation as a “Manufacturing Community” under the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) initiative. IMCP is designed to revolutionize the way federal agencies leverage economic development funds. It encourages communities to develop comprehensive economic development strategies that will strengthen their competitive edge for attracting global manufacturer and supply chain investments. Through IMCP, the federal government is rewarding best practices – coordinating federal aid to support communities’ strong development plans and synchronizing grant programs across multiple departments and agencies.
Here are 5 reasons your community should consider applying for the designation:
- A compass for navigating the bureaucracy: If you are designated as a manufacturing community, it can be like getting a machete to cut through red tape! While communities don’t receive money for being designated, you will be given elevated consideration from 10 federal agencies for more than $1.3 billion in available grant and program funding. No, you’re not guaranteed to suddenly be awarded every grant you apply for, but you get the opportunity to apply with that designee seal of approval. Moreover, you will have a dedicated federal liaison from one of the participating agencies that can serve as a resource to help you navigate the federal grant application process.
- IMCP will take your manufacturing strategy to the next level: Manufacturing is experiencing a renaissance. Over the past 5 years, American manufacturing has created nearly 800,000 jobs. The low-paid, gritty, back-breaking labor of the industrial revolution looks nothing like today’s manufacturing. For the first time in more than 10 years, both manufacturing output and employment are growing. Today’s manufacturing workforce are innovative, highly skilled, well paid employees in highly technical industries, with workers earning 17 percent more than similar workers in other sectors. This resurgence is great for the economy as a whole. For every $1.00 spent in manufacturing, the sector generates $1.32 for the U.S. economy.
- Increased cooperation among your region: At the core of the manufacturing community designation is the idea that your region is forming effective partnerships and working across sectors (public, private, academic) on issues relating to workforce development, supply chain, research and innovation, trade and international investment, and access to capital. Making these connections is invaluable for strengthening your local economy, attracting investment, and creating jobs. We witnessed an incredible buzz and enthusiasm among designated communities, applicants, and other participants at our IMCP Summit held last October. It was a showcase of economic collaboration at its best.
- You’re in good company: The 12 communities designated in the first round of competition are doing some incredible innovative work! From automotive to aerospace, flooring to photonics, these diverse economic development plans are being implemented to boost the economies of regions across the country. To learn more about each community’s work and vision and the success of the designation, visit: http://www.eda.gov/challenges/imcp/index.htm.
- You win by just applying: This may be a competition, but there are no “winners” or “losers” here. Everyone who applies benefits from the coordination and planning that is part of the application process. But don’t take our word for it – we heard from several of our first round applicants who were not designated that they found the process of simply applying to be very helpful. They were able to make new connections and access tools and resources to help start meaningful planning for their manufacturing sectors that has helped positioned them for success.
These are just a few of the reasons to apply to be a designated manufacturing community. If you’re looking to strengthen your community’s manufacturing sector and regional economy, find your reason and start building your partnerships now. The deadline to apply is April 1, 2015. For more information visit: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-01-29/pdf/2015-01763.pdf.