Feds name Milwaukee area one of 12 ‘manufacturing communities’

The Milwaukee 7 region was named one of the first 12 “manufacturing communities” in the federal Manufacturing Communities Partnership initiative, which will give the region an opportunity to apply for a share of $1.3 billion in federal economic development funds, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced Wednesday.

The $1.3 billion will be allocated by 11 different federal agencies. The “manufacturing community” designation gives the Milwaukee 7 region an edge in competing for those funds, which could be used for a variety of economic development projects.

“There’s no actual funding that comes as a result of the designation,” said Pat O’Brien, executive director of Milwaukee 7. “The designation puts you in a preferential position to receive the funding.”

Milwaukee 7 is one of 12 communities selected out of 70 applicants for the MCP initiative and plans to invest funds in six key areas: workforce and training, research, infrastructure and site development, supply chain support, trade and international investment, and operational improvement and capital access.  

The Milwaukee 7 and the 11 other designated manufacturing communities will receive coordinated support for their long-term economic development strategies from eleven federal agencies.

“This is a testament to the comprehensive work Milwaukee 7 is doing to develop our workforce, grow our economy, and create jobs,” Gov. Scott Walker said. “This designation will help boost economic development in the Transform Milwaukee area, and all of southeastern Wisconsin, which will have a positive impact on our great state.”

The federal program is designed to accelerate the resurgence of manufacturing in communities nationwide by supporting the development of long-term economic development strategies that help communities attract and expand private investment in the manufacturing sector and increase international trade and exports.

“It’s a recognition from the White House and the agencies who’ve been involved in this designation that Milwaukee plays a critical role in the future of manufacturing in this country,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said.

The other manufacturing communities that will share the federal funds are: Chicago, southeastern Michigan, southwestern Ohio, southwest Alabama, southern California, northwest Georgia, south Kansas, greater Portland, Maine, the New York Finger Lakes region, the Tennessee Valley, the Washington Puget Sound region.

The Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee was the lead agency seeking the competitive IMCP designation, and the application was submitted in partnership with the Milwaukee 7 regional economic development collaboration.

The Milwaukee 7 is working on a strategy to increase the region’s competitiveness in three core manufacturing sectors: energy, power and controls; water technology; and food and beverage manufacturing.

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