As part of a $1.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense’s Office of Economic Adjustment, MassDevelopment is partnering with the Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership and the Smaller Business Association of New England to help Massachusetts defense-related businesses expand into civilian markets. With the OEA funds, the partnership will analyze the Massachusetts-based defense supply chain, help companies commercialize their research products, and expand the efforts of MassDevelopment’s Manufacturing Innovation Centers. The $1.7 million grant builds on $1.4 million that OEA awarded to MassDevelopment in 2015, which the Agency used to assess the Commonwealth’s defense industry and identify opportunities for technology advancement and growth.
“The DOD’s decision to invest in Massachusetts is a win all around –locally and nationally. It will have a considerable impact on the Massachusetts economy, allowing local businesses to grow and adapt to modern technology and needs,”said U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas. “At the same time, it will allow Massachusetts to continue developing the modern technology needed by our servicemembers around the world to stay safe and successful. I commend MassDevelopment for its continued advocacy on behalf of small businesses in Massachusetts and was proud to have joined my colleague Rep. Moulton in strongly supporting them. The success of this grant is another example of the federal government’s recognition of the unique ecosystem we have here in Massachusetts that combines world class academic and research institutions, top-tier military facilities and cutting-edge businesses to form a leading innovation hub in support of our nation’s defense.”
“We look forward to continuing our work with MassMEP and SBANE, two organizations that have led the way in advancing the innovation economy and growing manufacturing jobs,”said MassDevelopment President and CEO Marty Jones. “Portable MRI machines and WiFi on airplanes are just two examples of innovations that Massachusetts companies produced for the defense industry that later became commercial successes. Thanks to this vital federal support, more businesses across the Commonwealth can transform their military goods into civilian ones.”
The first OEA grant awarded funds for MassMEP, through MassDevelopment, to expand its outreach to defense manufacturers and expand its workforce-development efforts. The Worcester-based organization developed an eight-week CNC operator skills training course for the unemployed with Worcester Polytechnic Institute; the grant made it possible to expand that program to University of Massachusetts Lowell. The first class has completed its training with a second class to begin in May. MassMEP and UMass Lowell train the participants in advanced CNC skills. The objective is to prepare the participants for employment at the completion of the training. Past placement of graduates is above 90 percent, at family-sustaining wages and a pathway to a new longer-term career.
“MassMEP is honored to partner with MassDevelopment and SBANE on this grant. MassMEP will receive MRL/TRL training allowing us to provide assistance 10 10 SBIR companies to bring their products to commercialization,”stated John Killam, Center Director. “We will work with the 10 companies to complete a value analysis and provide expert guidance in the development of their manufacturing and commercialization plan to help with their profitable growth in Massachusetts.”
The $1.7 million grant extension covers four tasks:
MassDevelopment will conduct an in-depth analysis of the defense supply chain.
The Agency has tasked MassMEP in collaboration with MassVentures with identifying and selecting 10 Massachusetts companies to participate in a small business innovation research program, which will help them transition inventions to commercial products and services.
SBANE will work with consultants to help Massachusetts defense firms commercialize their technology and products.
MassDevelopment will expand its Manufacturing Innovation Centers program to include 10 defense firms. The Centers, through services and expertise, will help these small- to medium-sized manufacturers grow their businesses.
“MassDevelopment has elevated the high-tech defense sector to the same level as the life science sector of the Massachusetts economy,”said SBANE President Bob Baker. “We’re excited about this grant and partnership and look forward to holding our first session in Fall River in March.”
MassDevelopment, the state’s finance and development agency, works with businesses, nonprofits, financial institutions, and communities to stimulate economic growth across the Commonwealth. During FY2015, MassDevelopment financed or managed 294 projects generating investment of more than $2.5 billion in the Massachusetts economy. These projects are projected to create about 6,100 jobs and build or rehabilitate about 2,000 residential units.
Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MassMEP), part of the national NIST MEP system, is a leading resource for manufacturers. Committed to success in manufacturing, MassMEP transforms companies through solutions focused on innovative growth, operational excellence, and workforce development. The organization cultivates a sustainable community built on supportive relationships, idea sharing, achievement, and next generation manufacturing. For more information, visit www.massmep.org.
The Smaller Business Association of New England, Inc. (SBANE), founded in 1938, is a private not-for-profit association of approximately 600 member companies located throughout the six-state region. SBANE was established to provide a legislative voice for small business at the state and federal levels and to make practical information available to help business owners grow their companies. SBANE runs diverse, educational and networking programs each year and has active chapters in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The membership is characterized by a high degree of participation, reflected in a large and dynamic committee structure, addressing a range of topics from international trade to human resources.