Salt Lake Community College (SLCC) is part the latest round of 12 “communities,” or states, selected to take part in the federal Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) initiative, a U.S. Commerce Department-led project designed to “accelerate the resurgence of manufacturing in communities nationwide by supporting the development of long-term economic development strategies.”
The Utah Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Initiative (UAMMI) was one among the second round of “manufacturing communities” that will benefit from more than $1 billion in federal funds that will fuel “targeted” grants for participants. U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker announced the first 12 designees in May 2014. “An IMCP designation is an important signal to potential investors that these communities are a good place to spend their money, and this is smart government at work,” Pritzker said.
For the past 50 years Utah’s so-called Advanced Composite Cluster has grown to serve national and international markets through its highly specialized manufacturing capacity in advanced composites materials and products for aerospace, outdoor recreation, and equipment and transportation equipment industries. The UAMMI, using a chain of “local solution centers” and led by the University of Utah, involves seven colleges and universities, including SLCC, seven state and local economic development groups and nine industry partners. One center, SLCC’s Westpointe Campus, will “advance as a comprehensive solution center for manufacturing technology training and entrepreneurship advancement,” says Karen Gunn, SLCC Associate Provost of Economic Development and Business Partnerships. The college also offers a Manufacturing Engineering Technology program that trains students to be composites technicians.
“This important designation will promote communities taking a strategic, comprehensive approach to long-term operational improvement of manufacturing activities,” says Nicole Omer, SLCC Office of Sponsored Projects Director. “The Utah Initiative (UAMMI) involves deep relationships between the public and private sector and is designed to have a substantial impact on developing critical manufacturing workforce infrastructure.”
In addition to having access to federal funds, the designated manufacturing communities selected to take part in the IMCP also receive a dedicated federal liaison to help navigate all available federal resources. The UAMMI and other participants also receive increased global visibility via a government website that is accessible to prospective private foreign and domestic investors investigating manufacturing communities’ “competitive attributes.”