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Inside this nonprofit group's effort to create a manufacturing innovation center in St. Louis

Nonprofit organization AMICSTL is leading the effort to launch a facility the group says will serve as a hub of innovation and research initiatives
Credit: SLBJ
A nonprofit group in St. Louis is advancing plans to develop and launch a manufacturing innovation center.

ST. LOUIS — A nonprofit group is advancing plans to develop an innovation center it hopes can bolster the region’s manufacturing prowess and become an anchor institution for employment and technology development in north city.

Nonprofit organization AMICSTL is leading the effort to launch the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Center (AMIC), a facility the group says will serve as a hub of innovation and research initiatives for the region’s manufacturing sector. AMICSTL, which formed as a Missouri nonprofit corporation in May 2020, hopes to begin construction on the project within the next two to three years. The goup is led by its board chair, Dennis Muilenburg, former Boeing Co. chairman and CEO, with other board members including Ranken Technical College CEO Stan Shoun and John McDonnell, former CEO of McDonnell Douglas.

The concept of the AMIC was born out of a grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Defense to the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership in 2014 to help the region develop a manufacturing strategy that could expand further beyond dependence on defense spending and manufacturing.

“When we got started with this back in 2014 and 2015, Boeing was going through changes that were anticipated and we noticed the region was too heavily reliant on aerospace and defense matters. Through a grant from the Department of Defense Office of Economic Adjustment, we began to study what might be opportunities to pivot,” said Kevin Cahill, vice president of strategic initiatives at the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership and board member of AMIC.

Through its planning efforts, AMICSTL has envisioned a manufacturing innovation center that will focus on three key pillars:

  • Talent development: The center aim to be a hub for educational programming and job creation, with hopes of helping create thousands of jobs in the region.
  • R&D and technology: The nonprofit is positioning the center to be a driver of R&D efforts to create new materials, products and processes. It will focus on technology areas such as artificial intelligence, big data and cybersecurity.
  • Manufacturing and production: The center aims to help local companies solve manufacturing challenges and test new methods and products, with the expectation that its R&D and testing capabilities will led to new companies that will be spun out and launched through those efforts.

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