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Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership Summit
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American Manufacturing is making a comeback. For every one dollar invested in manufacturing the sector generates $1.32 for the economy. The Obama administration has made supporting manufacturing a top priority. The IMCP Program is an example of that support.







DMI President Carole Bilson (center) with Paul Hatch, CEO, Teams Design and Jacklyn Woniger, Industrial Designer, Escalade Sports

In November, 2015, I was invited by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to meetings at the White House and the Department of Commerce as part of the 2nd Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) Summit.


The resurgence of U.S. manufacturing has been a focal point for the Obama Administration. We heard from Senior White House officials, and interfaced with twelve of the Administration’s twenty four designated manufacturing communities sharing best practices and discussing measures to bridge the skills gap and build the U.S. manufacturing workforce.

The challenge is to support manufacturers within the rapidly changing environment. This IMCP initiative was established by the federal government to reinvent how economic development is done in manufacturing through strategic investments to strengthen the capacity of the 6 pillars of the industrial ecosystem (Research & Innovation, Infrastructure & Site Development, Tools & International Investment, Operational Improvement & Capital Assets, Workforce & Training, Supplier Network). Within various regions across the US, organizations from industry, academia, government, economic and workforce development are forming partnerships to collaborate around the key pillars and drive success for the US in the global marketplace.

While the premise from the NEA was to better connect Industrial Design (ID) to this initiative, around manufacturing and supply chain issues, I viewed this as a great opportunity for key design disciplines that complement ID. I believe that it is imperative for key designers to get engaged on the ground floor of initiatives in their respective regions, as a way to demonstrate the vital role design can play at this important juncture. As the groups realize success, so too will the field of design and design management.

Many of the participants expressed tremendous enthusiasm for this and the fact that this initiative was forcing them to collaborate across boundaries in a way that they had never before done. Some shared that even if they spoke with their own competitors, they recognized that at the end of the day, this would be of benefit rather than a threat.

One particular panel discussion that I found most interesting was the NNMI's (National Network for Manufacturing Innovation). This discussion was led by JJ Raynor, Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, National Economic Council. Various members from the Chicago area representing industry, academia, economic development and a digital innovation institute shared how they are structured and what they are doing to encourage innovation and ultimately produce end products. It was very exciting to hear. My goal is to try to connect various designers and firms to join these collaboratives, so we can make good contributions to this worthy cause.

Please get in touch if you would like to learn more. I too will share more as I learn more myself.





 Find the agenda of the IMCP Summit here.

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