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Yesterday, the Mobile Area Chamber and University of South Alabama got word the U.S. Secretary of Commerce renewed our regional manufacturing community designation.
“The move demonstrates we are making progress toward our regional workforce and economic development goals,” says Laura O’Connor, the Mobile Area Chamber’s Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) coordinator.
The U.S. Department of Commerce-led program is designed to accelerate the resurgence of manufacturing in communities nationwide.
“Being designated as one of the first 12 Manufacturing Communities in the country has been a wonderful marketing feature for southwest Alabama and has given us a real edge in successfully receiving federal grants such as the recent Economic Development Administration grant for Innovation PortAL. The redesignation gives us renewed opportunity to advance our position as a world-class manufacturing region,” says Bill Sisson, the Chamber’s president and CEO.
We received the designation in 2014 as one of the first 12 of only 24 communities in the nation. With it, Mobile has preferential scoring on a number of economic development grants, resulting in $20 million coming to the community. Among the projects funded were building renovations for Innovation PortAL, a program of the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce Foundation; a new industrial access road for Atmore’s Rivercane Industrial Park; and the City of Mobile’s Bring Back Broad initiative.
“The redesignation of the eight counties in southwest Alabama as one of a select group U.S. Department of Commerce Manufacturing Communities (IMCP) reflects the incredible strength and impact of our manufacturing industries. The IMCP partners have been catalysts for advancements in workforce development and in creating a regional innovation ecosystem,” says Lynne Chronister, University of South Alabama’s vice president for research and economic development.
Other results from round one included acceptance into the ACT Work Ready Communities program as the first region in Alabama to link, align and match education, workforce and economic development efforts; a supply chain study as it relates to products and jobs; and branding of the partnership – Advancing Southwest Alabama name, logo and website.
“The IMCP redesignation brings national recognition to our ability to successfully collaborate and achieve results. Since 2014, the partners of Advancing Southwest Alabama have received more than $20 million in federal funds. Imagine what we can accomplish with two more years!” adds O’Connor.