Led by Gonzaga University, AAMMC Tech Hub brings together some 50 public and private partners primed for innovation and job creation in development and manufacturing of composite materials for the future of lightweight, sustainable aircraft.
OLYMPIA, WA — The American Aerospace Materials Manufacturing Center located in Spokane, WA today was designated one the 31 inaugural Tech Hubs across the nation by the Biden-Harris administration through the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA). The Tech Hubs Program aims to strengthen U.S. economic and national security by investing in regions across the country with assets and resources with the potential to become globally competitive in the technologies and industries of the future—and for those industries, companies, and the good jobs they create, to start, grow, and remain in the United States.
The American Aerospace Materials Manufacturing Center will build on Washington’s longstanding history of innovation and leadership in the aerospace industry. The consortium, led by Gonzaga University, will work to meet the growing demand for lightweight composite materials made in America at large scale, enabling the next generation of sustainable commercial and military aircraft while reducing reliance on foreign suppliers.
“This designation is a testament to the innovative manufacturing and collaborative research taking place in Spokane and across Washington state,” said Gov. Jay Inslee. “Not only will the hub provide good paying jobs and help maintain Washington’s global aerospace leadership, it will also lead us further towards our climate and sustainability goals. I applaud the Biden-Harris Administration, our Congressional delegation, Gonzaga University, and the nearly 50 Spokane area partner organizations for making this happen.”
Members of the consortium represent the leading institutions and industry partners that are developing and manufacturing thermoplastic composite materials. Working together with a diverse group of workforce development, labor, and economic development partners, the consortium will drive innovation and economic growth in these advanced materials, moving research conducted by institute partners into competitive, commercially ready products and systems for aerospace manufacturing globally. It will build on Washington state’s already robust aerospace industry supply chain consisting of more than 1,500 firms and 132,000 of the world’s most highly-skilled workers.
“We are thrilled to see this investment from the federal government in our state” said Director, Mike Fong. “This investment ushers in an exciting expansion of aerospace opportunity in the Spokane-Coeur d’Alene inland region, and will advance our innovation economy statewide and benefit our workforce while pushing towards Washington’s broader decarbonization goals. I’m incredibly proud to see partnerships such as this consortium with public, private, labor and educational institutions all working together to ensure the strongest investments are made in Washington state.”
The centerpiece of the Tech Hub proposal repurposes the former Triumph Composite Systems manufacturing plant, a 50-acre, 386,000-square foot facility in Spokane, into an applied research, workforce training, and production facility where research conducted by academic and industry experts contributes directly to new composite materials components built on site for global customers. This hub facility will be supported by a network of workforce development training centers located across the region, enabling new opportunities for individuals who have traditionally lacked access to careers in aerospace manufacturing.
“We at Gonzaga are very excited to learn of this significant designation by the EDA,” said Thayne McCulloh, president of Gonzaga University. “The consortium supporting this application represents a dynamic partnership of leaders in industry, research, education, state, local and tribal governments, and workforce, all collaborating to achieve high-rate production goals for the next generation of aerospace manufacturing. We are grateful to the Washington State Department of Commerce for their support of the consortium and our efforts. Working with our partners at Lakeside Companies, this incredible group of innovators is well-positioned and ready to create future opportunities right here in the Inland Northwest.”
Commerce worked closely with the consortium, providing information, guidance and tools to complete their proposal to US EDA. This is an example of the broader work the department continues to do as more federal funding becomes available to advance significant projects and create jobs in Washington state.
This announcement comes on the heels of U.S. Department of Energy announcing up to $1 billion dollars for the Pacific Northwest Hydrogen Hub. The hub will leverage the abundant clean power and innovative clean energy technology companies in the Pacific Northwest to accelerate development of electrolytic hydrogen production and use to support decarbonization of heavy industry.
Commerce remains committed to ensuring Washington is in the best position possible to compete for historic federal funding available through the CHIPS and Science Act, Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), and other opportunities instituted by the Biden-Harris administration.
On top of the recent awards, Commerce has also submitted Washington’s application to the U.S. Environment Protection Agency for $250 million through Solar for All, an initiative focused on expanding the number of low-income and disadvantaged communities primed for residential solar investment—enabling millions of households to access affordable, resilient and clean solar energy.
If received, all of these awards will create thousands of jobs across Washington, make historic advancements in Washington’s economic growth and support the state’s clean energy and decarbonization goals, including a 100% carbon-free electric grid by 2045.
The 31 Tech Hubs announced today were selected from 198 applications from regional consortia that include industry, academia, state and local governments, economic development organizations, and labor and workforce partners. The Tech Hubs span regions across 32 states and Puerto Rico and represent a cross section of urban and rural regions.
A neighboring Pacific Northwest Mass Timber Tech Hub proposal, led by Oregon State University, was also among those designated. Washington state’s legacy timber industry also stands to potentially benefit from the advancement of this regional work in sustainable forest products innovation and manufacturing through a memorandum of understanding between OSU and Washington State University.
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