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The American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute (ALMMII) expected to add 10,000 new jobs to the US Midwest

05 Mar 2014


Metal stamping, metal working, machining and casting industries in the US Midwest are set to benefit from the opening of The American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute (ALMMII) in Canton, Michigan, during the northern spring. It is expected that $148 million ALMMI will inject 10,000 jobs to the area.

More than 50 other companies, universities and non-profits across the U.S. will be involved in the public-private partnership to be headquartered in Canton, with key support in Columbus, Ohio. The American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute will be led by U-M, Ohio-based manufacturing technology non-profit EWI and Ohio State University.

"Through this initiative, our region will build on its core strengths to become the nation's technology hub for lightweight materials and manufacturing," U-M President Mary Sue Coleman said. "Companies from around the country will come here not only because of our technological capabilities, but also because we have the workforce they need in their efforts to revitalize and transform domestic manufacturing."

The White House announced that the Michigan-based consortium won a competition to be one of the first three manufacturing innovation institutes in the nation. The first consortium is based in North Carolina and another is to be based in Chicago. President Barack Obama is expected to unveil the award during an event Tuesday.

Most of the anticipated 10,000 jobs are expected to be concentrated in Michigan and Ohio.

The federal government will invest $70 million over five years with an additional $78 million in matching money from consortium partners. Funding includes $10 million from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and money from the State of Ohio, according to U-M.

Sara Wurfel, spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Snyder, said the project is great news for Michigan and recognition of the state and region's talent, innovation, higher education institutions and strong leadership in manufacturing.

"Michigan has led the nation in number of manufacturing jobs. Can't think of a more perfect place for this new institute," she said.

The institute is designed to establish an ecosystem to support the production of advanced lightweight metals, U-M said. It will enable research and development projects as well as education and training programs to prepare the workforce.

It is charged with moving cutting-edge lightweight metals out of the research lab and into tomorrow's cars, trucks, airplanes and ships for both the commercial and military sectors, U-M said. The institute's efforts will encompass the entire transportation supply chain, nurturing innovations from conception through design, development and production.

It will contract more than $100 million in research and development projects with partner organizations. And by establishing science, technology and engineering curricula for programs in grade school to graduate school, the institute will help educate the next generation of manufacturing operators and engineers, according to the university.

The institute will aim to add 100 more metal-related engineering professionals per year and 1,000 more skilled trade workers.

The institute will be the newest node in the National Network of Manufacturing Innovation, a White House initiative to help U.S. manufacturers become more competitive.

The concept of such a network came out of Obama's Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, launched in 2011. Coleman and engineering professor Jack Hu, now U-M's interim vice president for research, served on the working group that recommended the innovation network.

Canton Supervisor Phil LaJoy said the investment gives the township an opportunity to show the world how it is a business-friendly community.

Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano agreed and said the hub is a natural fit with the skilled workforce for manufacturing and the university system.

Despite hardships for the region, such as the Detroit bankruptcy, "innovation and talent keeps coming here along with the workforce."

"You get much farther ahead with collaboration and cooperation, not only at the regional scale," Ficano said. "When you have labor and academics and the business sector, you can accomplish so much more."

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