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A Focus on Advanced Manufacturing

By Gary Ballew, CEcD, VP, Economic Development

Advanced Manufacturing

I know a number of you have time-honored family traditions around Economic Development Week, like the lighting of the traditional economic development girder, painting the groundbreaking shovel gold, waiting to see if the economic developer sees his shadow and is scared back into his office, drinking of the economic development martini, sending a heartfelt card to your favorite economic developer (my mailbox is always inundated this time of year). I always celebrate by imparting a small part of my massive economic development knowledge to the masses through a blog, just kidding on the massive knowledge part, Economic Development Week Fools!

This year I thought we could look at manufacturing, more specifically Advanced Manufacturing, or “how s**t gets made.” What comes to mind when you think of manufacturing? Is it some dark and dingy factory with soot-covered workers? For many of us, that’s the case. But that is not the world of Advanced Manufacturing.

Advanced manufacturing refers to the use of innovative technologies and processes to produce goods with higher efficiency, accuracy, and customization. It involves the integration of advanced technologies such as automation, robotics, artificial intelligence, and 3D printing to streamline the manufacturing process, reduce costs, and improve quality.

In simpler terms, advanced manufacturing is about using the latest and greatest tools to make things better, faster, and cheaper. It’s all about pushing the boundaries of what’s possible and constantly finding new ways to improve the manufacturing process. Whether it’s creating new materials, designing smarter machines, or implementing cutting-edge software, advanced manufacturing is all about using the latest technology to create the best possible products.

Advanced manufacturing is an important aspect of our economic development strategy because it drives innovation, creates jobs, and increases productivity. These jobs typically pay well and require specialized training, which helps increase the overall skill level of the workforce. Spokane is home to a number of advanced manufacturing companies, including Hotstart, Altek, and Accrafab, among others. These companies leverage the latest technologies to produce a variety of products, ranging from aerospace components to medical devices and green building materials.

To help grow Advanced Manufacturing we try to make sure companies have what they need in talented workforce, supply chains, and a positive regulatory environment. Recent initiatives include passage of a sales tax deferral/exemption on the purchase of manufacturing equipment and the Unlock Your Future event exposing thousands of middle schoolers to manufacturing, construction, and health care careers.

If you want to learn more about advanced manufacturing, there is an event put on by our partners at the Inland Northwest Aerospace Consortium (INWAC) and the Coeur D’Alene EDC called the I-90 Aerospace+ Corridor 2023 Conference. The event will be held May 30th and 31st and will bring together manufacturers from Helena to Moses Lake, to share best practices, shared challenges, and resources.

Have a very Merry Economic Development Week!

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