Buffalo is trending. Construction cranes sprout over the medical campus and the arena. Companies large and small from Japan, California, Idaho and Arizona have come here or intend to. Entrepreneurs worldwide are lining up for the 43North business plan competition. The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and Forbes magazine, among others, have published favorable notices on Buffalo recently.
Amidst all the hoopla, it was easy to miss an announcement on February 27th that promises to be one of the most important for WNY’s economy over the next decade or more: the creation of an advanced manufacturing institute, known at the moment as the Buffalo Niagara Institute for Advanced Manufacturing Competitiveness (BNIAMC). Why is this so important? Because manufacturing remains a cornerstone of our regional economy. In the Buffalo-Niagara metropolitan statistical area, manufacturing is the #1 contributor to gross domestic product and the #3 employer. The BNIAMC will offer our manufacturing base a powerful boost of world class capability that will enhance our competitiveness, helping area manufacturers sell more product, bank more profits and ultimately hire more employees. The BNIAMC plan was developed by EWI (formerly the Edison Welding Institute) which has a highly successful, 25+ year track record of helping manufacturers develop and implement world class welding and joining technologies to improve the speed, quality and/or capability of their manufacturing process(es). To craft the BNIAMC plan, EWI worked with numerous WNY organizations and gathered input from company visits and focus groups with over 125 manufacturers, large and small. Here is how it will work:
The BNIAMC will have four service areas: Applied Research & Development, Workforce Development, Export Assistance and Process Excellence. The heart of the Institute will be world-class applied R&D capabilities in four technology areas:
- flexible automation & controls
- advanced materials (real-time monitoring of materials processing and embedding sensors)
- advanced fabrication (flexible, automated machining and cutting technologies)
- additive manufacturing & functional printing
The BNIAMC will offer its other services in collaboration with regional partners: Process Excellence (Insyte Consulting), Workforce Development (SUNY) and Export Assistance (World Trade Center Buffalo Niagara). Manufacturers will be able to access all of these services via BNIAMC membership or on a fee-per-project basis.
While it is exciting to see our future economy taking shape, we should not neglect our current economic base. The BNIAMC will help our existing manufacturers develop world class capabilities that will differentiate them in the marketplace making their products more desirable and increasing their competitiveness, their sales and their profitability.