YBI, Brite Form Joint Economic Development Initiative

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio- The Youngstown Business Incubator and Brite Energy Innovators have secured funding through the office of Congressman Tim Ryan, D-13, for a joint economic development initiative focused on the Industrial Internet of Things, or IIoT.  The project secured $312,744 through the House Appropriations Community Project Funding process.

Industrial Internet of Things is critical for Industry 4.0, or “smart”, manufacturing. IIoT uses the power of electronics and real-time analysis to improve operations by identifying potential problems, such as a machine that needs preventative maintenance, or opportunities to reduce energy consumption. Taken in aggregate, the data can be used to understand larger trends.

However, there is a lack of adoption of cloud-based computing and smart manufacturing technology locally.

A 2020 survey conducted by Youngstown State University that interviewed individuals in multiple sectors found that more than 75% of local companies do not use real-time data and over 50% percent noted that they did not have the expertise, training, or business case for adoption.

According to Ryan, this technology is fundamental to bringing manufacturing jobs back to the U.S.

“For American manufacturing to compete globally against low-wage and low-cost manufacturing economies, we have to find ways to integrate advanced manufacturing technologies into our small to-medium enterprises,” Ryan said. “At the same time, technologies like these are going to help stimulate innovation in our region and position Ohio as an industry hub of the future.”

Barb Ewing, CEO of the YBI, said that the funding would be used for outreach to industry, training, implement demonstration projects, and support innovation and entrepreneurship. She also noted that YBI has secured funding through Eastgate Regional Council of Governments to complement the federal funds, as well as Ohio Third Frontier Entrepreneurial Services Program funding.

“Industrial IOT is already changing the face of manufacturing. It can be used for everything from monitoring supplies to monitoring machine operations to prevent downtime,” Ewing said. “The fact that the Mahoning Valley is building capacity in this technology will protect our existing manufacturers. The fact that we’re partnering that up with innovation and entrepreneurship could mean a new industry could be grown here.”

Ryan continued, “With YBI’s expertise in advanced manufacturing and software, and Brite’s understanding of advanced energy, this is a ‘win-win’ for the Mahoning Valley.”

Rick Stockburger, President and CEO of Brite, added, “We’re charged to partner with YBI to help the community transition to Industry 4.0 and see this as the perfect opportunity for perfecting technologies and introducing new energy efficiency and electrification solutions to local companies.”

Mahoning Valley businesses interested in learning more should contact Stephanie Gaffney, Director of Advanced Manufacturing for the YBI at sgaffney@ybi.org.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.