ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis region has won a $25 million federal grant for several advanced manufacturing industry projects, including construction of a center in north St. Louis that backers say will become the hub of a “regional tech triangle.”
“One voice with one plan led to a big win for St. Louis,” Jason Hall, CEO of Greater St. Louis Inc., said in a statement. “We can’t say this enough: When the St. Louis metro works together and speaks with one voice, we succeed. Working together as a metro is working, and it is how we will win this... decade for St. Louis.”
The funds come from the $1 billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge, awarded by the U.S. Department of Commerce on a competitive basis, to accelerate innovation and entrepreneurship; create higher-skill, living-wage jobs; generate private investment, and fortify and grow industry clusters. Greater St. Louis Inc., the region’s lead economic development agency, was the formal applicant and worked with public sector agency St. Louis Economic Development Partnership.
The announcement comes a week after the Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) announced it is contributing $5 million to the proposed advanced manufacturing center, which aims to become a driver of research and development efforts to create new materials, products and processes. Plans call for the $60 million center to be located in north St. Louis’ Vandeventer neighborhood adjacent to the campus of Ranken Technical College, which would operate the facility. The project is called the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Center, or AMICSTL, and will receive $7 million in grant funds.
Of the $25 million total, the largest amount — $7.5 million — will go to the Racial Equity in Innovation and Entrepreneurship program. Backers said the project will provide an array of entrepreneur and small business supports to advanced manufacturing firms; expand capacity at Harris-Stowe State University to serve as a hub for black entrepreneurship; and “foster networks, supports, and capital to drive the creation and growth of businesses that provide manufacturing, logistics, and supply chain services across the biosciences sector.”
The four co-applicants are BioSTL, the St. Louis nonprofit group WEPOWER, Harris-Stowe and the Small Business Empowerment Center.
Other projects that will receive funding are:
• $3 million for St. Louis Community College's proposed Advanced Manufacturing Training Academy at St. Louis Community College and $2.5 million for one developed by Southwestern Illinois College. Plans call for new programs to provide quick credentials that support advanced manufacturing in the region, with access to training in Missouri and Illinois.
• $3 million to hire research and strategy firms to “map out a long-term strategy for the manufacturing environment, identify strategies specific to capitalizing on AMICSTL, and create a strategy to reinvest in disinvested neighborhoods.” The partners on this project are Greater St. Louis and the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership.
• $1 million for the proposed Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient Innovation Center in St. Louis’ Cortex Innovation Community. The project is designed to bring together pharmaceutical industry leaders, innovation partners in the startup and entrepreneurship space, researchers from academic and industry partners, and critical workforce development programming to prepare diverse candidates for equitable opportunities in the active pharmaceutical ingredient supply chain.
• $1 million so the nonprofit Rung for Women can identify talent gaps for middle-skill careers within advanced manufacturing, build training and credentialing programs with higher education partners to fill gaps, and recruit, prepare, and place women — 70% women of color — in jobs with local employers.
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