$148M Metals Hub Plans Detroit Digs


A new $148 million federally funded lightweight-materials manufacturing and research “ecosystem" is headed for the Motor City.

The facility, set to open this fall, is part of a new initiative aimed at building U.S. competitiveness.

The American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute (ALMMII) is tasked with establishing a regional manufacturing hub to move cutting-edge lightweight metals from the lab to real-world applications, such as vehicles, airplanes, and ships for both the commercial and military sectors.

The public-private partnership will develop advanced manufacturing technologies and implement education and training programs, ALMMII and the City of Detroit announced July 23. 

ALMMII was selected by the U.S. Department of Defense under the Lightweight and Modern Metals Manufacturing Innovation (LM3I) solicitation issued by the U.S. Navy's Office of Naval Research.

It is one of the founding institutes and one of four centers in the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation. That federal initiative focused on strengthening the innovation, competitiveness, and job-creating power of U.S. manufacturing.

Funding Rolls In

The new institute will receive $70 million in federal funding over the next five years, matched by an additional $78 million from the consortium partners.

Funding includes $10 million from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and $10 million from the state of Ohio. The New Economy Initiative, a non-profit based in Detroit, has also committed $1 million over two years for capital expenses at the headquarters.

ALMMII is led by EWI, an Ohio-based manufacturing technology non-profit; the University of Michigan; and The Ohio State University.

University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel said, "Detroit's renewed energy and revitalization efforts mesh perfectly with the goals of ALMMII, making the city an ideal spot for its headquarters.

"I look forward to seeing the innovations that will come out of the institute that will transform American manufacturing."

City Sees Opportunities

The facility will be built at a vacant 107,000-square-foot property in Detroit's Corktown neighborhood that was last used by a company that made plastic moldings for the auto industry. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2001.

This video from the Department of Defense explains the importance of focusing on lightweight and modern metals. Learn more about the government's manufacturing initiatives here.

"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 materials manufacturing," said Larry Brown, ALMMII Executive Director.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said this showed the city could compete successfully for major manufacturing investments.

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

According to Duggan, the facility will provide significant opportunities for the people of Detroit, who will be able to receive training through regional partners for the high-tech manufacturing jobs that will result from lightweight metals production.

Far-Reaching Impact

Seventy-five member organizations have partnered with the institute, including companies, universities, research institutions, and education and workforce leaders.

One of the institute's goals is to help educate the next generation of the technical workforce in manufacturing. ALMMII plans to strengthen education and training pathways to jobs in all transportation manufacturing sectors, including the automobile, aircraft, heavy truck, ship, rail and defense industries.

The institute will initially have a staff of 10, but plans to eventually employ about two dozen. The building will include offices, meeting rooms, training space and laboratories for developing and testing technologies for manufacturing.

In addition to the impact on jobs in Detroit, the institute is expected to contribute to economic development throughout Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee and Kentucky over the next five years. A majority of the jobs will be in metal stamping, metalworking, machining and casting industries.

Engaging the Future Workforce

Partners such as Focus: HOPE, Macomb Community College, Michigan State University, Michigan Tech, Wayne State Community College and Wayne State University will work with ALMMII's workforce program on new manufacturing methods.

The institute will offer opportunities to students, including internships and technical work on research projects.

"ALMMII represents the first of what I hope are many innovative regional collaborations among Ohio State [University], Michigan, EWI, and other key regional assets," said OSU's College of Engineering Dean David B. Williams.

"When it comes to advanced manufacturing, workforce development, and U.S. competitiveness, we are all on the same team."


Tagged categories: Colleges and Universities; Department of Defense (DOD); Government; Government contracts; Metals; Program/Project Management; Research; Technology; Worker training; Workers

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