Additional investment in Industrial Resource Centers will accelerate use of advanced manufacturing technologies.
WILKES-BARRE, PA (Jan 30, 2020) – Governor Tom Wolf recently revealed his proposed 2020-21 budget for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. That budget includes a $2.5 million increase for the Industrial Resource Center (IRC) network across Pennsylvania to expand their capacity to deliver innovative services to new and existing manufacturers in areas such as talent pipeline development, robotics utilization, 3-D printing and other advanced manufacturing technologies. The increase is supported by industry input and the suggestions of independent research firms such as Brookings and Fourth Economy, both of which performed in-depth analyses of Pennsylvania’s innovation and advanced manufacturing resources.
Pennsylvania’s seven IRCs serve the commonwealth’s nearly 15,000 manufacturers, 92 percent of which are small to mid-sized firms that form the economic backbone of their communities. Collectively, those firms employ more than 585,000 workers and provide annual payrolls in excess of $47.2 billion. With main offices in Allentown, Erie, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Wilkes-Barre, Williamsport and York, and regional offices throughout Pennsylvania, the IRCs cover both urban and rural communities. In many cases, IRCs are their clients’ only resource for technical assistance. Key IRC services include workforce training, continuous improvement, quality systems, innovation management, cybersecurity and industry 4.0 technology implementation.
“These additional resources will enhance our ability to provide essential Industry 4.0 awareness, assessment and implementation assistance to our regional manufacturers so they can remain competitive in today’s technology-based industrial market, assist them in addressing their workforce challenges and connect them with college, university and similar resources,” said Eric Joseph Esoda, President and CEO of the NEPIRC, the Industrial Resource Center of northeastern and the northern tier of Pennsylvania.
Independent research consistently affirms the positive returns of the IRC initiative. Last month, the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research concluded that the IRCs provide a one-year return of $7.5:$1 on state funding invested in the program. Their research also suggested that in 2018, total state employment was impacted by an additional 20,272 jobs because of the IRCs’ work with Pennsylvania manufacturers. During the same year, Pennsylvania’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), statewide output and statewide personal income increased by $2.12 billion, $4.56 billion and $1.26 billion, respectively, due to manufacturer implementation of IRC-provided training, technical services and advice.
The Governor’s proposed increase would be competitively awarded to IRCs based upon proposals to partner with institutes of higher education in ways that will accelerate manufacturer modernization, innovation and job creation. The proposed funding marks the first increase in IRC funding in over 10 years.
For more information on Governor Wolf’s PA Innovation Plan click here.
For more information on the IRC program, please contact your local IRC office, which can be found at www.pamade.org/contact-us.