U.S. grant to help create regional jobs

Several initiatives direct resources to high-tech advanced manufacturing

By Aaron Corvin, Columbian Port & Economy Reporter



Small and medium-sized companies involved in advanced manufacturing in Clark and nearby counties will get help with everything from market research to workforce training thanks to a $1.79 million federal grant.

The grant — announced Tuesday by the U.S. Small Business Administration — is part of an overall $20 million outlay for 10 public-private partnerships in nine states. The money is intended to strengthen the nation’s manufacturing base and to create jobs.

In Washington and Oregon, the $1.79 million will fund a project called “Innovations in Advanced Materials and Metals,” led by the Columbia River Economic Development Council, a Vancouver-based nonprofit.

“We have three years to perform the work,” Bonnie Moore, business services director for the CREDC, said in describing the objectives of the grant, which covers Clark and Cowlitz counties in Washington, and Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties in Oregon.

That work aims to boost the region’s “advanced manufacturing cluster” — businesses that use high-tech tools, including engineering, computing and metallurgy, to produce a part or product.

To that end, the $1.79 million grant will pay for several initiatives, including linking companies and universities for research and development; training existing workers, and retraining job seekers and underemployed people, such as military veterans; and purchasing market research to help companies expand into new markets.

Helping a manufacturer of, say, medical devices diversify into the aerospace industry is just one example of what could be done, Moore said.

The overall $20 million pot of federal money will go to 10 private-public initiatives in Arizona, California, Michigan, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee, as well as the $1.79 million to Washington and Oregon, in amounts ranging from $1.79 million to about $2.39 million. It is “expected to train a total of 1,000 workers and help nearly 650 companies” create jobs, according to the SBA.

The funding comes by way of the Advanced Manufacturing Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge, a national competition administered by several federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Labor, and the Small Business Administration.

Aaron Corvin: http://twitter.com/col_econ; http://on.fb.me/AaronCorvin; 360-735-4518; aaron.corvin@columbian.com.

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