By Merrill Balassone and Dion Jackson
Federal and local lawmakers converged on USC to announce $2.5 million in funding for the USC Price School Center for Economic Development to work with regional partners to reinvent how economic development is done in manufacturing in Southern California.
“The rise of Los Angeles as one of the great cities of the world is in no small part the story of manufacturing,” said USC Provost Michael Quick. “But the challenge will be: What does manufacturing mean in the 21st century? I’m so proud that USC is on the forefront of these issues.”
Last year, the USC Price School Center for Economic Development partnered with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti in the effort to compete for the federal designation as a “Manufacturing Community.” The resulting partnership, the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership for Southern California (AMP SoCal), brought together aerospace businesses, colleges and universities, government entities, and business and economic development organizations from Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange and San Diego counties. The designation gives preferential access to $1.3 billion in government funding to this region and the 11 other designated manufacturing communities across the country.
Said Leonard Mitchell, executive director of the USC Price School Center for Economic Development: “Our collaboration unites the region to grapple with the complex issues facing the aerospace and defense industries. By helping them fulfill their workforce needs, compete globally and adopt advanced manufacturing technologies, we will keep Southern California on the cutting edge.”
On July 8, local lawmakers and policymakers, including Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis, Los Angeles Deputy Mayor of Economic Development Kelli Bernard and Compton Mayor Aja Brown, were among those who joined U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams for the announcement.
Williams, who first toured the M.C. Gill Composites Center at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, praised the university for setting a “high bar” as part of the first group of federal manufacturing designees. Locally, one aerospace manufacturing job supports five jobs in other parts of the economy, Williams said. And USC is one of just four universities that graduate aerospace engineers, Solis added.
“Some people are quick to write the obituary on manufacturing, but in order to be a globally competitive country, in order to remain at the top of that pile, we have to make things here in the United States of America,” Williams said.
Following the announcement, Williams engaged local manufacturers and AMP SoCal members at a Manufacturing Roundtable hosted by the USC Price School Center for Economic Development. The discussion ranged from workforce needs to conducting research and transferring technology from Universities. Successes and challenges were shared and Williams promised to take the input back to Washington DC.