The Wasatch Front and its surrounding counties support a highly specialized manufacturing capacity in advanced composites materials and products. Utah has a 50- year history in the Advanced Composite Cluster (ACC) with an infrastructure and transportation system that has grown with the cluster. Utah’s ACC is a critical piece of Utah’s manufacturing ecosystem supporting three of Utah’s most important clusters — Aerospace Products and Manufacturing, Outdoor Recreation and Athletic Equipment, and Transportation Equipment Manufacturing.
Utah began manufacturing lightweight components for the strategic missile programs in the 1950s. It has now grown into one of the most advanced composites centers in the nation. Utah companies serve national and international markets from aerospace to recreation. The region aims to strengthen its current leadership in composite manufacturing by adding to its already strong ecosystem and providing supporting infrastructure including the Utah Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Initiative (UAMMI) and a chain of Local Solution Centers. UAMMI brings together public, private, community, industry and education partners to assure growth and sustainability of one of Utah’s most important manufacturing clusters. The Utah Legislature recently provided an investment of $750,000 to formalize the UAMMI structure and begin programming for and building of the UAMMI solution/innovation centers. A strong industrial ecosystem, combined with a highly-educated population which is nearly eight years younger than the national average, gives this region a good chance of succeeding.
Workforce and Training: The workforce is a foundational element of industrial ecosystems and key to economic prosperity. Industry members continue to express the need for more skilled workers. UAMMI is expected to play an important role in workforce development and training. It plans to form integrated and collaborative teams with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and other partners to develop strategies for workforce development and training. These strategies include linking the K-12 STEM pipeline, engaging industry in providing immersed work-based learning, providing professional credentialing, applied technology certificates, college education, and professional development and creating access to continuous skills upgrades to meet the demands of a knowledge-based economy.
Supplier Networks: The Advanced Composites industry supports a virtually complete supplier network with over 50 companies. Additionally, Utah is home to Hill Air Force Base which houses the Air Force Center of Industrial Excellence for Low-observable, Stealth Aircraft Structural Composite Materials. UAMMI aims at further strengthening and integrating Utah’s Advanced Composites Cluster (ACC) supplier network by focusing on three areas: 1) increasing intrastate utilization of supplier network capabilities and products; 2) creating a comprehensive understanding of Utah’s current supplier network capabilities and how those capabilities match current and future market conditions; and 3) creating a plan to fill gaps with the network.
Research and Innovation: By working through the Local Solution Centers, UAMMI will maintain close collaboration among university researchers, the training programs at applied technology colleges/community colleges, and industry, to benefit the complete ACC ecosystem. These Local Solution Centers are envisioned to be a hub where university researchers will learn about and address problems that industry faces. In addition, students from the universities may find the Solution Centers a great place to perform work on their theses that cannot be done in a university setting.
Infrastructure and Site Development: As Utah’s aerospace, sports equipment manufacturing, and advanced composites industries continue to grow, there are ongoing plans to shore up the underlying infrastructure. For example, FrontRunner commuter rail’s expansion is planned to extend north to Brigham City in Box Elder County and south to Payson and then Santaquin, with the possibility of even extending as far south as Nephi in Juab County. Other infrastructure strengthening include the establishment of three Local Solution Centers to bring industry, training, applied research, and business incubators together.
Trade and Investment: In January 2015, Salt Lake County announced their participation in an economic development network created by the Global Cities Initiative (GCI), a joint project of the Brookings Institution and JPMorgan Chase to help business and local governments to export and attract foreign direct investment. Resources are also available from other public and private organizations including the Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce to assist firms to export.
Operational Improvement and Capital Access: A network of public and private organizations, including the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) and UAMMI, is available to assist companies to improve their operations. For example, UAMMI helps companies leverage all assets of the State of Utah through the Local Solution Centers. Furthermore, companies in Utah have robust access to capital. Utah leads the entire intermountain Region in access to risk and growth capital.
With the University of Utah at the lead, the UAMMI partnership is extensive and already making progress. The partnership includes:
Research Institutions: University of Utah, Weber State University, Utah State University, Salt Lake Community College, Davis Applied Technology College, Ogden-Weber Applied Technology College, Granite School District/BioInnovation Gateway
Local Economic Development Groups: State of Utah Department of Workforce Services, Salt Lake County, Ogden City, EDCUtah, State of Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development, Air Force Sustainment Center Operation Location Hill, State of Utah STEM Action Center.
Industry: World Trade Center Utah, Logistic Specialties, Inc., Churchill Oaks Consulting, Utah Manufacturing Association, Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering, EDO Corporation, ENVE Composites, Total Quality Systems, Inc., EmergenTek.