Northeast Ohio has a strong history of making things. America Makes, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, based in Youngstown, has the potential to ensure our region makes things well into the future using in-demand technology.
Established in 2012 by a broad, cross-regional partnership, America Makes has a mission to accelerate the research and development of additive manufacturing and to transition technology to the U.S. manufacturing industry. Our Fund actually played a role, along with many other key partners, in helping the region win the grant that brought America Makes to Northeast Ohio. Since its founding, it has leveraged substantial public and private dollars to assist organizations around the country.
In late 2015, our Fund made a small grant with the goal of better understanding the market opportunities in additive manufacturing and 3-D printing, and how Northeast Ohio might capitalize on the technology advancements happening at America Makes. This work involved sizing the market, prioritizing focus areas, and identifying who is (or could be) involved. The result was an "Asset Map of Additive Manufacturing Opportunities in Northeast Ohio," jointly authored and released in August 2016 by a team from the Youngtown Business Incubator (YBI), Team NEO, MAGNET, and America Makes.
The bottom line? Northeast Ohio is well-positioned to win in this market. Additive manufacturing could result in as many as 65,000 jobs over the next 15 years in the state of Ohio, improve the competitiveness of our existing manufacturing sector, shift high-value occupations into the region, and capture attractive new markets. According to the authors, this opportunity is relevant to 1,900 metal fabricators and 800 plastic processors, who collectively employ more than 100,000 people, or about 5 percent of our regional workforce.
So, what now? The report indicated several steps must be taken to capitalize on this grand opportunity: (1) Work with the local manufacturing community and the entities who serve them to drive adoption of these technologies; (2) equip the workforce and help individuals transition into the digital manufacturing era; and (3) develop partnerships, since no single entity can do this alone.
Since the release of the report, YBI and its partners have begun to develop a more comprehensive plan to shore up the additive manufacturing cluster, forming a steering committee and an executive committee—which includes representatives from YBI, MAGNET, America Makes, Team NEO, and the Fund—to move beyond identifying strategies and toward identifying initial actions to take.
One of the first steps is getting all of the relevant players in the same room. YBI and its partners are working to build a cluster of universities, businesses, nonprofits, and tech-based economic development organizations with an interest in additive manufacturing.
Deborah D. Hoover, president and CEO of Fund member Burton D. Morgan Foundation, which has been a supporter of the additive manufacturing cluster, is confident the region can make good on the vision laid out in the report of Northeast Ohio as a national leader in additive manufacturing by 2023. But “we can’t do that unless we have all the players with the potential to shape the industry at the table, working toward this shared goal.”
For more information, go to www.NEOhioAMCluster.org