Posted by on Jul 31, 2014 in August 2014 Articles | 0 comments

(Photo Courtesy Harley Ellis Devereaux Corp.)

By Nicole Casal Moore and Kimberly Gibson

The new $148 million American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute (ALMMII) announced in February by President Obama will be located in the Corktown neighborhood of Detroit, ALMMII and city officials recently announced.

ALMMII is a public-private partnership led by Ohio-based manufacturing technology nonprofit EWI, the University of Michigan and Ohio State University. The initiative is part of the National Network of Manufacturing Innovation and is being led by the Department of Defense.

The institute, expected to open this fall, is charged with establishing a regional manufacturing ecosystem to move cutting-edge lightweight metals out of the research lab and into tomorrow’s cars, trucks, airplanes and ships for both the commercial and military sectors.

Mayor Mike Duggan said locating this new high tech hub in Detroit shows the city can compete for and win major manufacturing investments.

“To win a competitive process for a project of national significance is a major win for the city of Detroit,” he said. “Detroiters should expect to see us win a lot more in the future.”

The ALMMII facility will be located at 1400 Rosa Parks Boulevard in Detroit. The last tenant of the 107,000-square-foot property was Mexican Industries, which made plastic moldings for the auto industry until filing for bankruptcy in 2001.

Job Impact & Workforce Training

Duggan said that having the institute in the city will provide significant opportunities for Detroiters, who will be able to receive training through Focus: Hope and other partners for the high-tech manufacturing jobs that will come as a result of getting these lightweight metals into production.

Operations at ALMMII will begin with an initial staff of 10. Eventually, two dozen employees will be based at the Detroit facility. The building will house offices, meeting rooms, training space and laboratories for developing and testing technologies for manufacturing.

With more than 70 member organizations as partners, including companies, universities, research institutions, and education and workforce leaders, the institute is expected to contribute to economic development and positive job impact in Detroit and stretching to the five-state region of Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee and Kentucky over the next five years. Most of these jobs will be in the metal stamping, metalworking, machining and casting industries that are dominant in the Midwest.

Beyond its R&D efforts, the institute aims to help educate the next generation of manufacturing’s technical workforce. ALMMII will engage workforce partners from across the region to strengthen education and training pathways to high quality jobs in all transportation manufacturing sectors, including the automobile, aircraft, heavy truck, ship, rail and defense industries. The White House has referred to the institute as a “teaching factory.”

“Detroit’s renewed energy and revitalization efforts mesh perfectly with the goals of ALMMII, making the city an ideal spot for its headquarters. This is an exciting next step in the university’s longstanding relationship with Detroit, at a time of great importance,” said University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel. “I look forward to seeing the innovations that will come out of the institute that will transform American manufacturing.”

“ALMMII represents the first of what I hope are many innovative regional collaborations among Ohio State, Michigan, EWI and other key regional assets,” said David Williams, dean of OSU’s College of Engineering. “When it comes to advanced manufacturing, workforce development and U.S. competitiveness, we are all on the same team.”

Location, Location, Location

ALMMII’s Detroit location puts it close to key workforce partners such as Focus: HOPE, Macomb Community College, Michigan State University, Michigan Tech University, Wayne State University and the Wayne State Community College District. These partners will work closely with the institute’s workforce program on new manufacturing methods. The institute, in turn, will engage students in internships and technical work on its research projects.

The institute is one of four pilot centers of the National Network of Manufacturing Innovation, a presidential initiative to boost the nation’s competitiveness. The new initiative, funded through the Lightweight and Modern Metals Manufacturing Innovation program, was selected through a competitive process led by the U.S. Department of Defense.

The institute will receive $70 million in federal funding over five years, matched by another $78 million from the consortium partners themselves. The funding includes $10 million from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and an additional $10 million from the state of Ohio. The New Economy Initiative, a Detroit-based nonprofit, has committed $1 million over two years for capital expenses at the headquarters.

“From this very central location on the I-75 corridor, and particularly in the heart of Detroit, the institute is poised for success in serving our nation in setting the standard for world-class lightweight metals manufacturing,” said ALMMII Executive Director Larry Brown.