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Ohio State center will help regional manufacturing companies grow

The Ohio State University’s Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence (CDME) will receive up to $8.6 million in federal, state and industry funding over the next five years to lead a program facilitating growth of small- and mid-sized manufacturing companies in the 15 county central Ohio region. The program is funded by the National Institute of Standards and Technologies, with matching funds provided by the Ohio Development Services Agency, which administers operations through seven regional affiliates.

CDME's John Bair meets with industry leadersCDME was designated as a new Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) affiliate organization on October 1 and began execution immediately.

As the largest industry sector in the state of Ohio—accounting for 17% of the state’s GDP—manufacturing is critical to Ohio’s economy. “Ohio is a leader in innovation,” said David Goodman, director of the Ohio Development Services Agency. “Our statewide partnerships advance Ohio’s manufacturers, helping them find new ways to stay competitive and create jobs.”

CDME developed a manufacturing-centric consortium that includes other Ohio State centers as well as external partners. Columbus 2020, the regional economic development agency, will assist CDME’s outreach to central Ohio companies. Other Ohio MEP entities include Polymer Ohio, the Center for Innovative Food Technology, MAGNET, TechSolve, Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth and University of Dayton Research Institute’s FastLane.

Ohio State’s MEP program will work directly with manufacturers to identify and execute growth strategies. The university and its partners will assist clients in product development and innovation, manufacturing process improvement, business development and marketing, supply chain management and workforce development, among other services. 

The central Ohio manufacturing economy is comprised of approximately 3,350 self-identified manufacturing companies across the 15 Central Ohio counties. More than 90 percent of them have 50 or fewer employees. Many small and medium-sized manufacturing companies are aware of the growth challenges they face, but still require assistance to overcome them.

“Small and mid-sized manufacturing companies are the growth engine of our economy,” said CDME Executive Director and Principal Investigator John Bair “While representing the largest potential for growth they often need assistance to achieve that growth. The MEP program will provide companies uncommon access to critical expertise and capabilities.”

Affiliated campus partners providing assistance include the Ohio Manufacturing Institute, Materials Innovation Greenhouse, Center for Operational Excellence, Technology Entrepreneurship and Commercialization Institute and the Law Clinic.

CDME's Nate Ames operates manufacturing equipment in the center's Kinnear Road facility

“The MEP centers connect local manufacturers with the resources and services necessary to meet new market challenges,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. “The Department of Commerce supports these public-private partnerships that improve this sector’s global competitiveness, strengthen our economy and create jobs in communities across the nation.”

In 2015, CDME received a three-year $6.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, which served as the catalyst to launch CDME’s innovative business model of industry-focused applied research and commercialization. The center also has developed a large student experiential learning program leading to highly qualified graduates accessible by companies working with the center.

MEP is a public-private partnership with centers in all 50 states and Puerto Rico dedicated to serving small and medium-sized manufacturers. Since 1988, MEP has worked with more than 86,000 manufacturers producing $96.4 billion in sales, $15.7 billion in cost savings, and more than 797,994 jobs. 

The Ohio State MEP program will operate within CDME at 1314 Kinnear Road, a 100,000-square-foot multi-use facility.

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