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New lightweight metals institute will be headquartered in Detroit

23 July 2014

The new $148-million lightweight metals manufacturing institute announced in February by President Obama (earlier post) will locate in the Corktown neighborhood of Detroit, officials from the American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute (ALMMII) and the city announced today.

ALMMII is a public-private partnership led by Ohio-based manufacturing technology nonprofit EWI, the University of Michigan and Ohio State University. The initiative is part of the National Network of Manufacturing Innovation and is being led by the Department of Defense.

The institute, expected to open this fall, is charged with establishing a regional manufacturing ecosystem to move advanced lightweight metals out of the research lab and into cars, trucks, airplanes and ships for both the commercial and military sectors.

The ALMMII facility will be located at 1400 Rosa Parks Boulevard in Detroit. The last tenant of the 107,000-square-foot property was Mexican Industries, which made plastic moldings for the auto industry until filing for bankruptcy in 2001.

Operations at ALMMII will begin with an initial staff of 10. Eventually, two dozen employees will be based at the Detroit facility. The building will house offices, meeting rooms, training space and laboratories for developing and testing technologies for manufacturing.

With more than 70 member organizations as partners, including companies, universities, research institutions, and education and workforce leaders, the institute is expected to contribute to economic development and positive job impact in Detroit and stretching to the five-state region of Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee and Kentucky over the next five years. Most of these jobs will be in the metal stamping, metalworking, machining and casting industries that are dominant in the Midwest.

Beyond its R&D efforts, the institute aims to help educate the next generation of manufacturing’s technical workforce. ALMMII will engage workforce partners from across the region to strengthen education and training pathways to high quality jobs in all transportation manufacturing sectors, including the automobile, aircraft, heavy truck, ship, rail and defense industries. The White House has referred to the institute as a “teaching factory.”

The institute is one of four pilot centers of the NNMI, a presidential initiative to boost the nation's competitiveness. The new initiative, funded through the Lightweight and Modern Metals Manufacturing Innovation program, was selected through a competitive process led by the US Department of Defense.

The institute will receive $70 million in federal funding over five years, matched by another $78 million from the consortium partners themselves. The funding includes $10 million from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and an additional $10 million from the state of Ohio. The New Economy Initiative, a Detroit-based nonprofit, has committed $1 million over two years for capital expenses at the headquarters.

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