City of Youngstown Announces Partnership to Attract Innovation Hub

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Officials on Thursday announced a partnership anchored by America Makes that could potentially lead to the development of an “innovation hub” in the city.

Gov. Mike DeWine proposed last week during his State of the State address that Ohio make an investment of $150 million to create innovation hubs to bolster economic development in key areas.

“The city of Youngstown, in partnership with many organizations already excelling in research and technology to advance workforce development right in our downtown, is ready to compete for these funds and play its part in propelling Ohio’s economy,” Mayor Tito Brown said. “Hopefully, our work here in Youngstown is strong enough to consider us for this type of state investment.”

America Makes – the first of the national advanced manufacturing hubs under the Manufacturing USA network – the Youngstown Business Incubator, the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, as well as private-sector institutions and corporations from around the country, have focused on additive manufacturing research, technology and workforce development.

An additive manufacturing innovation hub would complement the work already underway in the city, officials say.

“We already have a good partnership with the state and a track record of success for developing the additive manufacturing workforce,” said John Wilczynski, executive director of America Makes. “Additive is revolutionizing how we make parts for the auto industry, medical products and the vast defense industry. We’d be honored if the state considered us.”

The governor’s proposed two-year operating budget includes funding for innovation hubs to expand the workforce in research and technology, something America Makes has been doing for 11 years.

Brown, Wilczynski, Regional Chamber President and CEO Guy Coviello, YBI Executive Director Barb Ewing, State Rep. Lauren McNally, D-Youngstown, and Mark Lamoncha, president and CEO of Humtown Products, all say downtown Youngstown is a perfect fit for an innovation hub.

The Columbus-based Ohio Chamber Research Foundation recommended that an innovation center be created in Youngstown and centered at America Makes. The hub would focus on advanced manufacturing, with a special emphasis on additive manufacturing.

The city and its partners also touted other attributes, including:

  • America Makes already manages a $400 million research and development project portfolio.
  • America Makes already serves as the only additive manufacturing hub of innovation for the U.S. Department of Defense.
  • Corporations around the state and nation are part of America Makes’ membership and invested in accelerating the adoption of additive manufacturing to boost the U.S. manufacturing industry.
  • Additive manufacturing is revolutionizing how the world makes products, including 3D-printed homes and 3D-printed aircraft components. Ohio can gain a stronger foothold in a more technology-focused economy through these evolutions.

“Not only does this make good economic development sense, but by investing in our urban core, we can continue to make progress closing glaring disparities in educational attainment, income and health outcomes,” Coviello said. “Whether or not an Ohio innovation hub lands in Youngstown, thanks to the governor, our economic development ecosystem is now reassessing how we’re capitalizing on this incredible asset called America Makes.”

“Securing an additive manufacturing innovation hub in Youngstown is one of my top legislative priorities, and I’m grateful the governor is willing to make these investments in the state,” McNally said. “I strongly support this innovation hub concept, and I know that the hardworking people of the Mahoning Valley and America Makes are best suited to bring this concept to life.”

“We are one of the leaders in the world in starting and growing companies in additive manufacturing,” Ewing said. “We are already attracting companies here from other states and other nations. An innovation hub would certainly propel the entire state.”

Lamoncha said his business in Columbiana County has grown substantially since it embraced additive manufacturing technology.

“We would all benefit from an innovation hub anchored by America Makes,” Lamoncha said. “Our governor recognizes the importance of research, technology and a well-trained workforce. I applaud him for his forward thinking.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.