An $8 million grant from DOD’s Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA) awarded last week to the University of Michigan’s Institute for Research on Labor, Employment and the Economy will be used to help dozens of communities and companies across Michigan, Ohio and Indiana address the loss of jobs in the defense industry stemming from cutbacks in DOD spending.
“When communities are faced with the type of sudden and severe economic dislocation that can result from a defense plant closure or a mass layoff, it is necessary, but often difficult to create an effective community response,” Lawrence Molnar, an associate director at the institute and the project’s principal investigator, said in a news release. “Our community-based scope of work combines assistance from both the public and private sectors in communities and regions experiencing or anticipating adverse impacts of defense downsizing.”
The university — in partnership with Purdue University and Ohio State University — already has designed and begun to implement strategic programs tailored to more than 40 companies and seven communities through the school’s Defense Manufacturing Assistance Program. The new funding will allow that effort to increase collaborations with regional defense industry research institutions.
The $8 million grant, awarded through OEA’s defense industry adjustment program, will support a two-year project that will target 72 communities and companies across the three states. The goal is to generate diversification plans for those communities and companies so they are more resilient and can attract new business, while retaining and growing existing enterprises.
The Defense Manufacturing Assistance Program assesses many factors for each participating company and community, including their financial health and market placement. The program then works with each participant to implement diversification plans, which are jointly funded by all parties.
The University of Michigan currently is working with Battle Creek and Sterling Heights and is in the process of evaluating a number of other municipalities — Ypsilanti Township, Saginaw, Lansing, Cadillac and Grand Haven — to determine the impact from defense jobs losses and community interest, reported the Detroit Free Press.
Michigan, Ohio and Indiana have lost more than 6,800 defense supply-chain positions in recent years as DOD has drawn down from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and stringent budget caps have been imposed across the federal government.