YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -- Work is underway to create what is described as a "21st century business park" to house companies that comprise a value and supply chain related to additive manufacturing and America Makes: The National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, an executive says.
Michael Garvey, president and CEO of M-7 Technologies Inc. in Youngstown, said during a panel discussion at the Brookings Institute in Washington D.C. Wednesday that principals are in the process of developing the park, which would be located in Youngstown.
The new park would "co-locate the value chain, suppliers of 3-D printing so that we could compress the technology intersection between the different contributing technologies that result in a final product," Garvey told the audience at Brookings.
Garvey said the new park would include 15 innovation centers made up of mostly Fortune 500 companies. Each center, he reported, would employ approximately 100 people.
America Makes is the first manufacturing hub established by President Obama's National Network for Manufacturing Innovation, or NNMI. America Makes coordinates research and development related to additive manufacturing, commonly referred to as 3-D printing.
"When you do the math, and think about just the payroll taxes that will result in this development, there's about a six-to-one payback in one year of the federal investment that went in to establishing this center, that is now attracting private investment," Garvey said.
Garvey did not disclose precisely where the 21st century industrial park would be located or a timeline on its development.
When reached later by phone, the M-7 president declined to comment further.
Calls to other offices related to tech development in the region including the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (which oversees America Makes), the office of U.S. Rep Tim Ryan, D-13, and the Youngstown Business Incubator, also could not provide any additional information on the effort.
Martin Abraham, dean of Youngstown State University's College of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, or STEM, said his school isn't directly involved in the project, but supports its development.
"Anything we can do to bring high-tech business here will benefit us," he said. The university, Abraham added, could realize value from collaborative research between faculty, students and these new technology businesses.
Companies in the value chain are now realizing that they need to become involved in an industry that could grow at a rate of 25% to 35% a year for the next 10 years, Garvey said during the forum.
"That's substantial growth," Garvey noted.
Garvey and America Makes Director Ed Morris appeared as part of the John White Jr. Forum on Public Policy at Brookings called "Regional Manufacturing Hubs: A Path to Innovation."
Garvey emphasized it's important that suppliers and other centers of innovation locate near advanced manufacturing hubs such as America Makes in order to leverage the talent and expertise to elevate the country's competitiveness.
Morris underscored that establishing regional hubs of innovation are vital to "reconnect" design engineers to the shop floor and their products. "When you disconnect the design engineer from the shop floor, you're starving that engineer from the fertilizer of innovation -- that feedback from the shop floor drives new innovative products."
"Geography matters," Morris continued. "That's why regional hubs make sense"
Long distance supply chains are often inefficient, even with technological advances today, he added.
Morris said that America Makes is working on 25 different projects and boasts 102 member companies, organizations and academic institutions.
He related that Youngstown was the perfect choice to locate America Makes. "The community has incredible energy. Manufacturing is in their DNA."
Youngstown was an area well-suited for America Makes, Garvey agreed, noting that the community was not only built by the steel industry, but also the engineering know-how and innovation that became embedded in the region's manufacturing culture.
By harnessing the talents of design engineers, equipment manufacturers, material manufactures, commercialization specialists, application engineers, and distribution operations, the community creates a cluster effect that helps not only the region, but also the country's manufacturing competitiveness.
"It is going to allow the United States to retain the 'fertilizer to innovation' where we'll have the design, the manufacturing, the commercialization, innovation centers all co-located," Garvey said. "Location does matter. Geography does matter."
Garvey described it as a natural evolution toward a large-scale technology hub, patterned upon Michael Porter's "cluster" theory of tech development.
"We're proud to be the test kitchen," he said. "We take that responsibility very seriously."
"That's good," replied moderator Darrell West, vice president and director, governance studies at Brookings. "Because all eyes are on Ohio."
Copyright 2014 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.
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