Region pushing for manufacturing designation

Officials in Cincinnati and the Dayton region are teaming up in the hopes that southwest Ohio will receive preferential consideration for $1.3 billion in federal funding to help bolster manufacturing activities and create new jobs.

Cincinnati, Dayton, Montgomery County and the Dayton Development Coalition are working together on a joint application to become one of a dozen areas nationwide that will be designated as a “manufacturing community.”

Manufacturing communities will be given preferential consideration for funding from 10 agencies, including the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Economic Development Administration and the Department of Education. It is part of an Obama Administration initiative called the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership.

“If we get to be one of the 12, it will be big deal,” said Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley.

The federal program rewards communities that have promising plans to attract and expand manufacturing activities through investments in workforce training, research, infrastructure and other means, officials said.

The program directs some federal agencies to provide assistance and resources to these communities that will make the areas more attractive to manufacturing companies. And also there is the opportunity to get a slice of the $1.3 billion available in federal grants.

Officials said the program rewards communities that understand their economic advantages, invest in public institutions and have strong community connections.

Whaley said local officials are working collaboratively with their peers in Cincinnati because they have shared interests, and a regional approach to economic development strengthens their argument for deserving a designation.

Whaley said it is time for the cities to capitalize on their proximity to one another.

“We recognize that our competition isn’t Cincinnati and our competition isn’t Ohio,” Whaley said. “Our competition is China.”

Whaley said the application will focus on southwest Ohio’s thriving aerospace-based supply chain that includes the National Composite Center in Kettering and General Electric. The deadline to apply is March 14.

Manufacturing is extremely important to southwest Ohio, accounting for a large chunk of jobs while also supporting many other businesses.

In the 14-county Dayton region, manufacturing accounts for about 2,570 companies that employ 112,519 employees.

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