The meaning lies in the name—The United States of America. Not only are observers from outside the country often confused by some of the nuances of our government, but an unfortunately large number of Americans also don’t really know the complexities behind our many layered governments.

The US government has many manufacturing initiatives sponsored by several federal departments. State governments also boost the economies within their boundaries including initiative to support manufacturing. While I have written about CESMII, a federal initiative in the past, today’s news combines updates from three US states—New York, Ohio, and Illinois.

So, let’s dive in.

NY MEP Cybersecurity Program Helps Brooklyn-based Pvilion Land $1M Defense Contract

Pvilion, a Brooklyn-based manufacturer of solar-powered fabric and rapidly deployable robotic structures, has secured a $1 million contract from the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) after receiving a DOD Cybersecurity Assistance Grant from FuzeHub and the Advanced Institute for Manufacturing (AIM). (Note: I wrote about Pvilion here.)

The grant, awarded in late 2019, provided Pvilion with risk assessment, policy development, employee training and other tools to fulfill federal cybersecurity requirements. Achieving compliance has become increasingly critical for companies in the supply chain to obtain or renew contracts with the DOD, which began implementing its new cybersecurity provisions in late 2020.

FuzeHub and AIM have since launched the newest iteration of this effort, the NY MEP Cybersecurity Assistance Program, to help manufacturers strengthen their cybersecurity protocols and meet standards in the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS). 

Small- and medium-sized manufacturers in New York State can join the NY MEP Cybersecurity Assistance Program’s cohort of participating companies — free of charge — to gain access to funding and support. Trainings and workshops are ongoing; nearly 70 companies will be eligible for a risk-assessment grant.

“The stakes for safeguarding information have never been higher. Suppliers not in compliance with the Department of Defense — or unmindful of their status — could lose out on lucrative federal projects,” said FuzeHub Executive Director Elena Garuc. “This program helps companies like Pvilion assess their operations, address any issues, and keep DOD contracts in the capable hands of New York’s manufacturing community.”

Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President & CEO-designate Eric Gertler said, “We’re strengthening New York State’s cybersecurity sector through NYSTAR, our Division of Science, Technology and Innovation, which assists defense-related manufacturers with grant funding, training and assistance through our network of New York Manufacturing Extension Partnership centers. With help from NYSTAR-supported innovation assets, manufacturers like Brooklyn-based Pvilion have access to more opportunities to secure defense contracts and develop innovative tech-driven solutions for use by the U.S. armed forces.”

Pvilion’s recent contracts with the U.S. Air Force are for furnishing autonomous self-erecting shelter systems and expanding the use of solar energy generation to various squadrons and Wing Commands. The latest contract provides funding to deploy and field-test Pvilion’s new robotic shelter that opens and closes at the push of a button, saving time and resources usually required to set up temporary shelters.

“The cybersecurity grant has proven integral to our ability to serve the U.S. armed forces,” said Pvilion CEO and co-founder Colin Touhey. “Pvilion has benefited greatly from this and other programs offered by FuzeHub, which have kept our company at the forefront of solar fabric technology and military-market innovation.”

The NY MEP Cybersecurity Assistance Program is supported by funding from NYSTAR, Empire State Development’s NYS Division of Science, Technology, and Innovation, with funding from the Department of Defense’s Office of Local Defense Community Cooperation.

The program is one element in a robust innovation infrastructure that NYSTAR supports in communities across the state. AIM and FuzeHub are NYSTAR-supported New York Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NY MEP) centers, serving small- and mid-sized manufacturers in the Mohawk Valley region and statewide.

Blueprint for Manufacturing in Northeast Ohio

The Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network (MAGNET), together with more than 100 champions, announced today the launch of “Make It Better: A Blueprint for Manufacturing in Northeast Ohio.”

Bringing together the insights of hundreds of manufacturing CEOs, community leaders, business leaders, academics, workers, students, and nonprofit leaders, the Blueprint offers a vision for the future of manufacturing in the region: one that revitalizes Northeast Ohio as a leader in smart manufacturing, creates thousands of jobs, and transforms the industry.

“Manufacturing in Northeast Ohio has had its ups and downs, but the fact of the matter is the region remains a powerhouse that’s poised for growth,” said Dr. Ethan Karp, President and CEO of MAGNET. “We’ve got all the pieces in place, but to make it happen we’ve got to bridge the talent gap, adopt cutting-edge technologies, and embrace innovation. While no one organization can change the course of our industry, it’s our hope that the stories, expertise, and detailed strategies presented in this Blueprint can show us all what’s possible in Northeast Ohio – and encourage us to work together to build a brighter future.”

Manufacturing in Northeast Ohio constitutes nearly half of the local economy, directly and indirectly supports one million jobs and makes up 38% of the state’s GDP. But it faces persistent challenges: namely, a talent gap and the slow adoption of innovative technologies. In January 2020, almost 60% of manufacturers in the region said they couldn’t find the skilled workers they need to grow – an obstacle that even widespread COVID-19-related layoffs didn’t solve. 

Meanwhile, the Ohio MEP 2020 Manufacturing Survey found that investing in new technologies is near the bottom of the priority list for the vast majority of Northeast Ohio manufacturers.

The Blueprint addresses these and other key issues, grouping its insights and solutions around four key areas: talent, technology transformation, innovation, and leadership. The hope is that stakeholders throughout the region can use the report to guide collaborative efforts to solve these pressing problems.

“Manufacturing is a critical driver of our regional economy.  Accelerating the pace of technological transformation and the growth of manufacturing career engagement will drive more equitable growth throughout our region, putting our region and all of our residents in a better position to prosper,” noted Bill Koehler, CEO of Team NEO. “The Blueprint allows us to pioneer holistic, manufacturing-led workforce solutions, creating a positive force in Northeast Ohio by building pathways to reach diverse and untapped talent.”

In the weeks and months to come, manufacturers and organizations throughout the region will be taking steps to bring the Blueprint to fruition. For instance, the Manufacturing Innovation Council – comprised of many of Northeast Ohio’s leading companies – has identified key action areas to help bring the Blueprint to life. Interested parties can also tap into resources to help with change efforts at makeitbetterohio.org and participate in quarterly champions calls to stay apprised of new ideas.

“Making products that matter is embedded in this region’s DNA given our rich history as a center of industrial innovation that powered America,” said Baiju R. Shah, President and CEO of the Greater Cleveland Partnership and leader of the Cleveland Innovation Project. “Through the Blueprint, we now have the shared vision and commitment to build on that foundation and become the nation’s smart manufacturing capital. We look forward to working together with MAGNET, manufacturing leaders, and many wonderful organizations to realize that vision.”

Added Karp: “The pandemic showed the world Northeast Ohio’s manufacturing potential. After all, we have the manufacturers, big and small. We have the talent. We have the know-how. We have the educational institutions. We have the will. And we have a hundred-year history of bouncing back and getting stronger after every single challenge. This is Northeast Ohio. This is our backbone. This is our heart and soul. We hope that with the help of this Blueprint, we can tap into that – together – and lead the world.

The Blueprint and its partner organizations can be found at makeitbetterohio.org.

Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center Releases New Book Made In Illinois 

The Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center (IMEC) announced a new book that is described as a guide and valuable resource to help manufacturing companies become successful competitors on the global stage.

IMEC, which is also celebrating its 25th anniversary serving manufacturers, introduces Made In Illinois: A Modern Playbook for Manufacturers To Compete and WinWithin the book, readers gather insights from leaders from Illinois-based companies such as Motorola, Watchfire Signs, F. N. Smith Corporation, G&W Electric, Header Die and Tool, GAM Enterprises, and Ace Metal Crafts. Some of the subjects covered include the value of customer relationships, defining excellence, and integrating technology for greater process innovation. 

Praising Illinois for having a rich manufacturing tradition that presents many assets and strengths, IMEC President David Boulay explained in the book how the creative process was to examine the essential elements of manufacturing success. 

“Every company aims to leverage leadership and strategy to better focus on customers and align operational performance, workforce talent, and knowledge management,” he wrote. “As efforts such as the US Department of Commerce NIST Baldrige Performance Excellence Program has long demonstrated, these are powerful aspects of business success. We frame these elements into three parts: people, performance, and mindset. Within these categories, we share best practices, insights, lessons learned, and questions to inspire new thoughts.” 

Boulay reminds people how essential manufacturers are to everyday life, creating many items that are used around the world.

“Everything we buy from the store or get ‘magically’ delivered to our doorstep comes from a manufacturer,” Boulay wrote. “It’s a reminder how important our incredibly talented makers are for society. With that, we hope Made in Illinois offers readers new insights, validates tried and true practices, and gives way to new thinking about modern manufacturing and its many unsung heroes across the great state of Illinois.” 

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