Obama Administration Announces US 'Manufacturing Communities'
The American government has announced the creation of 12 Manufacturing Communities in a bid to spur investment and create jobs beyond the 647,000 generated in the sector since the financial crash.
To build on this momentum in manufacturing, the Obama Administration launched the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) last September– an initiative to spur communities to develop integrated, long-term economic development strategies that strengthen their competitive edge in attracting global manufacturers and their supply chains to our local communities—increasing investment and creating jobs.
IMCP specifically brings together the resources of multiple federal departments and agencies to support strong local economic development plans.
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker has announced the first 12 communities that will be designated Manufacturing Communities as part of the second phase of the IMCP.
Selected out of more than 70 communities that applied, these 12 communities developed strong economic development plans and have deep partnerships in place across the public and private sectors to carry out their plans.
The first 12 Manufacturing Communities designated by the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership are:
- Southwest Alabama led by the University of South Alabama
- Southern California led by the University of Southern California Center for Economic Development
- Northwest Georgia led by the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission
- The Chicago metro region led by the Cook County Bureau of Economic Development
- South Kansas led by Wichita State University
- Greater Portland region in Maine led by the Greater Portland Council of Governments
- Southeastern Michigan led by the Wayne County Economic Development Growth Engine
- The New York Finger Lakes region led by the City of Rochester
- Southwestern Ohio Aerospace Region led by the City of Cincinnati
- The Tennessee Valley led by the University of Tennessee
- The Washington Puget Sound region led by the Puget Sound Regional Council
- The Milwaukee 7 Region led by the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee
Eleven federal agencies with $1.3 billion in economic development funds will be able to use the designees' plans to make targeted investments in demonstrably strong public-private partnerships to strengthen regional manufacturing.
In addition, each designated community will also receive a federal liaison and branding and promotion as a designated Manufacturing Community to help attract additional private investment and partnerships.
Later this year, the Administration will launch a second Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership competition to designate the next round of communities.
Gartner: Leaders Lack Skilled Smart Manufacturing Workers
With organisations rapidly adopting industry 4.0 capabilities to increase productivity, efficiency, transparency, and quality as well as reduce cost, manufacturers “are under pressure to bring their workforce into the 21st century,” says Gartner.
While more connected factory workers are leveraging digital tools and data management techniques to improve decision accuracy, increase knowledge and lessen variability, 57% of manufacturing leaders feel that their organisations lack the skilled workers needed to support their smart manufacturing digitalisation plans.
“Our survey revealed that manufacturers are currently going through a difficult phase in their digitisation journey toward smart manufacturing,” said Simon Jacobson, Vice President analyst, Gartner Supply Chain practice.
“They accept that changing from a break-fix mentality and culture to a data-driven workforce is a must. However, intuition, efficiency and engagement cannot be sacrificed. New workers might be tech-savvy but lack access to best practices and know-how — and tenured workers might have the knowledge, but not the digital skills. A truly connected factory worker in a smart manufacturing environment needs both.”
Surveying 439 respondents from North America, Western Europe and APAC, Gartner found that “organisational complexity, integration and process reengineering are the most prevalent challenges for executing smart manufacturing initiatives.” Combined they represent “the largest change management obstacle [for manufacturers],” adds Gartner.
“It’s interesting to see that leadership commitment is frequently cited as not being a challenge. Across all respondents, 83% agree that their leadership understands and accepts the need to invest in smart manufacturing. However, it does not reflect whether or not the majority of leaders understand the magnitude of change in front of them – regarding technology, as well as talent,” added Jacobson.
Technology and People
While the value and opportunities smart manufacturing can provide an organisation is being recognised, introducing technology alone isn’t enough. Gartner emphasises the importance of evolving factory workers alongside the technology, ensuring that they are on board in order for the change to be successful.
“The most immediate action is for organisations to realize that this is more than digitisation. It requires synchronising activities for capability building, capability enablement and empowering people. Taking a ‘how to improve a day in the life’ approach will increase engagement, continuous learning and ultimately foster a pull-based approach that will attract tenured workers. They are the best points of contact to identify the best starting points for automation and the required data and digital tools for better decision-making,” said Jacobson.
Long term, “it is important to establish a data-driven culture in manufacturing operations that is rooted in governance and training - without stifling employee creativity and ingenuity,” concluded Gartner.