Northeast Ohio One of 60 Finalists for Massive $1 Billion "Build Back Better Regional Challenge"

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Northeast Ohio One of 60 Finalists for Massive $1 Billion "Build Back Better Regional Challenge" (2)
Photo by Joshua Rothhaas, Flickr Creative Commons
Northeast Ohio has been selected as one of 60 finalists out of more than 500 applicants in the "Build Back Better Regional Challenge," the marquee American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) program of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA). If selected, manufacturing projects in the region could receive up to $100 million in funding. 

The region's proposal was submitted by the Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network (MAGNET). It includes eight potential projects that are meant to expand the region's capacity in smart manufacturing and "catalyze equitable supply chain growth."

As one of the 60 finalists, MAGNET will get $500,000 to further develop its proposed projects. The EDA will then select 20-30 winners.

The Build Back Better Regional Challenge is meant to "provide transformative investments to develop and strengthen regional industry clusters across the country," and is aimed foremost at American cities that have been crippled by disinvestment. 

“The Build Back Better Regional Challenge aims to supercharge local economies and increase American competitiveness around the globe,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo, in an EDA press release. “The outpouring of interest in this program shows the demand for the Build Back Better agenda and the desire to not only create good-paying jobs, but also strengthen our country’s economic resiliency for years down the road.”

MAGNET is leading the local coalition, but is joined in their proposal by University Hospitals, the University of Akron (and its College of Engineering and Polymer Science), Cuyahoga County, BRITE Energy Innovators, Ohio Aerospace Institute and JumpStart.

If the proposal wins, the following projects could receive funding (from MAGNET's proposal):
  • Project 1: Smart [email protected] This non-construction project seeks to establish new capacity to provide R&D and commercialization technical assistance to manufacturers developing remote health devices in the 18-county region. Rough cost: $5,000,000.
  • Project 2: Smart Port & Waterway Sensor Deployment. This construction project seeks to deploy a network of smart sensors throughout Lake Erie’s ports and waterways to inform and improve freight backlogs and supply chain disruptions. Rough cost: $5,000,000.
  • Project 3: Sub-scale to Scale Energy Storage Innovation. This construction project seeks to establish a needed R&D and commercialization space supporting businesses innovating batteries and energy storage technologies, especially in automotive. Rough cost: $8,000,000.
  • Project 4: Resilient Energy Infrastructure. This construction project seeks to improve resilience by evolving electrical microgrids serving key industrial districts for improved security, uptime, and usage of green resources. Rough cost: $7,000,000.
  • Project 5: Polymer R&D and Production Facility. This construction project seeks to establish R&D and commercialization space to innovate and test new smart materials for use in advanced manufacturing products, especially polymeric materials. Rough cost: $15,000,000.
  • Project 6: Advanced Materials in Aerospace. This non-construction project seeks to establish capacity to provide R&D and commercialization assistance in the aerospace ecosystem around the NASA Glenn Research Center and throughout the region. Rough cost: $15,000,000.
  • Project 7: Capitalization Growth & Access for Smart Manufacturing in NEO. This non-construction project will expand capitalization capabilities across the region to increase supplier diversity and minority businesses’ growth. Rough cost: $10,000,000.
  • Project 8: Diverse Workforce and Talent Initiative. This non-construction project will launch a business technical assistance program supporting the adoption of manufacturing learn and earn programs that engage underrepresented groups. Rough cost: $10,000,000.
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About The Author

Sam Allard

Sam Allard is the Senior Writer at Scene, in which capacity he covers politics and power and writes about movies when time permits. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and the NEOMFA at Cleveland State. Prior to joining Scene, he was encamped in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on an...
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