Center aims to grow manufacturing
In 2015, the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research in Danville was attracting manufacturers at a faster pace than it could handle.
The IALR was providing work-ready incubation space where companies could launch their businesses while waiting to build, upgrade or occupy facilities while also helping build a pipeline of workers with the advanced manufacturing skills they’d need. “The institute hosted about eight companies and was filling space as fast as available. It was providing a real growth spurt in the area,” says Linda Green, IALR’s vice president for economic development.
Among those companies was Kyocera SGS Tech Hub, a manufacturer of custom cutting tools such as industrial drills. It hired students who’d gone through the IALR capstone training program, built a network of suppliers in the region, and completed ISO (Internal Organization for Standardization) certification before opening a manufacturing and research hub in Danville’s Cyber Park in 2018.
Kyocera and other manufacturers kept saying what a huge difference IALR’s help made, and IALR’s board and the Danville Regional Foundation decided to do more, Green says. They asked manufacturers what their needs are and what other offerings would be beneficial. They also studied what other places were doing.
The result is the $28.8 million Center for Advanced Manufacturing, which opened Oct. 5 on IALR’s campus. The 51,250-square-foot building provides manufacturing companies looking to move to or expand in the region with space to collaborate and enhance processes, improve quality, and integrate emerging technology and research capabilities. It also has an ISO-certified inspection lab to validate product quality, which can help reduce a new company’s startup phase by eight to 10 months.
“Think of things like additive manufacturing or 3D printing — it’s still relatively new technology that hasn’t been implemented widely. How do companies take advantage of it? That’s a gap the center will fill,” says IALR President Telly Tucker.
The CMA hopes to attract up to 20 new businesses to the region over 10 years, aiming for the creation of 3,600 to 4,200 jobs. The U.S. Navy has already announced it will launch its Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence (AM CoE) within the center.
“By providing manufacturers with everything they need to launch and grow, the center will be an important economic development tool. It will grow the portfolio of companies that decide to call our community home, and provide new job opportunities for our citizens,” says Danville Mayor Alonzo Jones.