Buried within the massive John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2019 was a win for manufacturing communities across the country as the Defense Manufacturing Community Support Program (DMCSP) was signed into law last month. Many cities and regions who had previously held designation through the Obama administration’s Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) initiative were particularly interested in the outcome of this bill and what its future may hold.
When AMP SoCal was awarded status as a federally designated manufacturing community in 2014, it was during the first round of the IMCP program led by the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration. In 2015, 12 additional communities were awarded designation, which brought the number of IMCP regions to 24 communities, representing a wide range of industry specialties, such as aerospace in Southern California, Southern Kansas and Puget Sound, to Timber, Textiles, Food and more.
This unique program was created as an incentive to facilitate collaboration in U.S. manufacturing communities among private and public sectors in order to support economic growth, new jobs and federal support for collaborative economic and workforce development objectives. In 2016, AMP SoCal was among the 12 first-round regions given redesignation as an IMCP Manufacturing Community, which extended the federal designation until September 2018. However, when the new White House administration began, the future of IMCP and its communities remained unknown.
A small group of senators, many of whom had federally designated manufacturing communities within their state, began collaborating on the establishment of a more permanent recognition for the various manufacturing hubs across the country. Championed by Senator Gillibrand of New York, DMCSP became a reality when it was signed into law on August 13, 2018. Senator Gillibrand has acknowledged that this latest iteration is based on the previous IMCP program, with a focus on strengthening the defense industrial base.
A few key differences are that the DMCSP initiative will be led by the Department of Defense Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA), and its focus will be on making long-term investments in critical skills, infrastructure, research and development, and small business support in order to strengthen the national security innovation base, working in coordination with the defense manufacturing institutes. The designation of a defense manufacturing community will be a competitive process and the designation itself will last for a duration of five years.
While the role of previous IMCP designated communities and how that may translate to the new DMCSP initiative is still under development, one thing for certain is that the AMP SoCal team is monitoring it closely, and will be sure to seize any opportunity to benefit the Southern California manufacturing industry.