August 16, 2012

Manchin, Rockefeller, Rahall Announce $30 Million for Pilot Manufacturing Program Which Will Include Four WV Operations

Funding Will Impact Partner Organizations in West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Senators Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin, as well as Congressman Nick Rahall, today applauded the Administration’s announcement to provide $30 million in federal funding to create the nation’s first manufacturing institute spread across three states, including West Virginia, to help strengthen America’s manufacturing sector, make America more competitive, and invest in America’s workers and businesses.

The funding will be used to develop a national manufacturing pilot program to bring together facilities in West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania to advance additive manufacturing.  In West Virginia, partners will include the Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing (RCBI), FMW Composites, Inc. in Bridgeport, Touchstone Research Laboratory in Triadelphia, and the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) in Morgantown.  

The pilot is the first of 15 new manufacturing institutes around the country that the Administration plans to create as part of its new National Network for Manufacturing Innovation, which will generate regional hubs to develop and expand manufacturing nationwide.  

“West Virginia has a strong history of manufacturing and developing new technologies, and it’s only appropriate that our state continues to help lead the way with a groundbreaking new program to guarantee that America is making the best, most innovative products, and putting more people back to work.  I applaud the Obama Administration for putting together such an innovative, forward looking program,” said Rockefeller.  “Over the past two years, I have convened several manufacturing roundtables with West Virginia workers and business owners, held three Congressional hearings – including one in West Virginia – on the future of manufacturing, and introduced or supported a dozen bills that would help create jobs and boost manufacturing in the state – including bills to train American workers in emerging manufacturing fields and help American manufacturers stay competitive, and others to end tax breaks for companies that send jobs to foreign countries.  We can’t sit and watch American jobs get shipped overseas.  With this new institute, and help from the four key West Virginia partners, we can work to keep our manufacturing center competitive and bring jobs back to the U.S.”

“The people of West Virginia and I believe that now is the time to start rebuilding America by creating good American jobs right here at home, and I am pleased that this project will take a step in that direction,” said Manchin, who is the cosponsor of the Rebuild America Jobs Act.  “We need to take advantage of regional opportunities to work together to save and create good jobs in the manufacturing sector.  I’ve been proud to support countless efforts to help this important industry and will continue to work with leaders on both sides of the aisle to address the loss of manufacturing jobs and our trade imbalance.  I’ve always said that West Virginians are some of the hardest working people in the world, who can compete with anyone in the world – as long as the playing field is fair.”      

“This federal funding renews our fight for American manufacturing jobs and serves as a significant national stamp of approval for RCBI.  As part of this new multi-state workforce and industry hub, RCBI is helping chart a new direction for the workhorse of the American economy, our manufacturing industry,” said Rahall, top Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.  “RCBI brings its proven technology, tools and talent to a larger table to help train America’s next generation of manufacturing workers for a greater competitive edge in the global marketplace.  Some current trends show American manufacturers are returning their operations to our shores.  RCBI’s training and operational capabilities in flexible manufacturing, especially in the promising additive manufacturing process I have watched in operation, provide extra incentive to reinvest in West Virginia workers.”


Earlier this year, the Administration announced its plan to build a network of up to 15 manufacturing institutes throughout the country, which will bring together industries, universities, community colleges, federal agencies, and states to accelerate innovation and create jobs by investing in growing manufacturing technologies.  These programs aim to work together to help companies – particularly small manufacturers – access cutting-edge technologies and equipment, and create an environment to educate and train students and workers in advanced manufacturing skills.  Each institute is intended to serve as a regional hub that focuses on a certain subset of manufacturing technology.  

The focus of the pilot hub in West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania will be on additive manufacturing, which is a process that involves generating a 3D print by fusing powdered metal or other materials layer by layer, rather than bending metal to create a product.  It is often used for creating models and smaller items, including hearing aids and hip implants.  But now companies are exploring the use of such technologies for much larger products, such as parts for cars, airplanes, and space exploration.  The new hub will help to advance these technologies in West Virginia and throughout the country.

The new institute will include 40 partners, including the four West Virginia organizations.  Other partners include the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM), Carnegie Mellon University, Penn State University, University of Akron, Youngstown State University, Kent State University, Case Western University, U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC), National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST), Boeing, General Dynamics, and many community and technical colleges, businesses, state Manufacturing Extension Partnerships (MEPs), research facilities and other government agencies.