Designation could mean millions for local industry

The Cincinnati and Dayton area’s first partnership on an economic development project yielded a big win, local leaders said Wednesday after learning southwest Ohio was one of 12 regions nationally to win a coveted “manufacturing communities” designation.

The designation under the federal program, Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership, is worth potentially millions for the local aerospace industry.

Local governments, universities, companies and other organizations in the 27-county region including northern Kentucky, Butler County and Springfield will get preferential treatment when applying for federal grants to support the aerospace manufacturing industry, using the new status.

This “region has a long legacy of innovation and we said it doesn’t just mean inventing things. It means that we have a foundation in manufacturing that is superior to so many other communities in the country and this designation really awards us that recognition that we deserve,” said Quin Kline, vice president of strategic partnerships for the Dayton Development Coalition.

A total pot of $1.3 billion is available for the manufacturing communities to apply for across 11 federal agencies.

“Winning the designation really re-invigorates what we’ve known for so long here in the region — that we can compete. We can compete on a national level,” Kline said.

The cities of Cincinnati and Dayton, along with their respective head development agencies REDI Cincinnati and Dayton Development Coalition, were co-applicants on the paperwork.

“We did this as a region. We brought together northern Kentucky, greater Cincinnati, and Dayton,” said Johnna Reeder, president and chief executive officer of Regional Economic Development Initiative (REDI) Cincinnati, the private agency in charge of coordinating business attraction and retention activities in the Cincinnati area.

Other communities selected were in Alabama, California, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, New York, Tennessee, Washington and Minnesota, according to the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

More than 70 communities applied.

The 12 selected communities will receive a dedicated federal liaison to help identify the best grant opportunities for their region to apply for, and navigate various government offices.

For example, Middletown wrote a letter of support, proposing to use grant money to open a center in the city for training aerospace workers in partnership with Miami University and Cincinnati State Technical and Community College.

“We can use this designation to grow,” said Denise Hamet, Middletown economic development director. “There’s no reason why we can’t have the best trained aerospace workforce in the country and bring jobs.”

Internally, the four partners — the cities of Cincinnati and Dayton, REDI and the Coalition — have agreed not to have local companies and organizations compete against each other for funds, according to city of Dayton staff. A board will be assembled to review projects, encourage partnerships between potentially competing applicants, or else select the best candidate to use the designation on their grant application, according to the city.

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said the designation could mean more jobs for the region.

“It aligns us under aerospace, which is key, considering in Cincinnati GE announced 1,400 jobs in the city, and then we have GE Aviation up here in the city of Dayton, so there’s a connection there; from what National Composite Center’s doing in Kettering to really build the Airbus supply chain; to even the UAV opportunities,” Whaley said.

“Aerospace is what we do and manufacturing aerospace and that innovation is what’s a great opportunity for us,” Whaley said.

Cincinnati-Dayton will have to reapply for the “manufacturing communities” designation again after a year, Whaley said. When that time comes, the next application will have to show how the partners worked together to invest public dollars.

The joint application submitted in April flaunted the region’s higher-than-national-average concentration of jobs and businesses in the aerospace parts and products manufacturing sector.

Nearly 12,000 people worked in 2012 in aerospace manufacturing in the Cincinnati and Dayton metropolitan areas for private industry, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. As of 2012, the most recent information available, there were 61 private business locations related to aerospace manufacturing in the Cincinnati-Dayton region.

GE Aviation, which makes jet engine and engine components for commercial and military aircraft, anchors the local industry in the Cincinnati area, operating multiple sites.

The numbers mentioned above don’t include the industry’s Dayton-area anchor to the north—Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio’s largest single site employer of approximately 27,000 military personnel and civilians.

The Ohio Air National Guard base in Springfield employs an additional approximately 1,200 military members and civilians.

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