Emanuel: “Olympic Gold-Winning” Bid Helped Land Digital Manufacturing Hub

President Barack Obama announces the creation of two Pentagon-led institutes that will combine public and private resources to foster manufacturing innovation

Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday said it was an "Olympic Gold-winning" bid that helped Chicago beat out several other cities nationwide to land a center that will concentrate on high-tech digital manufacturing and design.

"I really do believe this is going to bring together both the brains and the brawn of tomorrow to Chicago and give us the best opportunity for our economic future in attracting new businesses," he told NBC Chicago from the White House lawn early Tuesday.

The mayor was in Washington to join President Barack Obama for the official announcement of the pair of Pentagon-led institutes that will combine public and private resources to foster manufacturing innovation.

The Chicago institute, called DMDI, is a consortium of 73 companies, universities, nonprofits, and research labs which aim to enable interoperability across the supply chain, develop enhanced digital capabilities to design and test new products, and reduce costs in manufacturing processes across multiple industries, the White House said.

“This is a transformative opportunity to shape the future of American Manufacturing,” UI LABS chairman Warren Holtsberg said. “We salute the vision of the President and the confidence the Department of Defense placed in UI LABS to be that change agent.”

Emanuel said the city's bid touted the presence of several top research universities and several Fortune 100 companies that span a variety of sectors. Additionally, Emanuel said the bid showed how small and medium-sized businesses in the city could benefit from the research that comes out of the facility. The bid also took into account the number of venture capitalists in the city who could take a license and ultimately create a company out of it, he said.

"This is the cutting edge research that will not only provide the basic research but it's going to be the center of gravity where people say, 'You know what, we want to move our factory near Chicago or in Chicago because we want to be on the cutting edge -- the front door -- of where the most promising research is going to be in the next generation of manufacturing," Emanuel said.

Chicago's center will be in the Goose Island neighborhood on the city's North Side. A second Midwest center will be outside Detroit, in Canton, Mich. The institute there will focus on light metal manufacturing.

Gov. Pat Quinn and Sen. Dick Durbin were also influential in landing the digital hub, which is backed by $70 million in federal money and another $250 million in private and other governmental funding.

“This new Digital Lab has the potential to revolutionize the way the United States approaches manufacturing and a major effort will be centered in Illinois,” Durbin said.

Joining Emanuel on the trip were two students from Chicago's Early College Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) schools.

"I want them to see what they're studying today in high school we're now building the research lab where they have eventually the opportunity to work at, come up with ideas that are in the most promising fields that are going to create the companies of tomorrow and the jobs of tomorrow," he said. "This is their future."

In his 2013 State of the Union address, President Obama proposed a series of manufacturing institutes each designed to serve as a regional hub that will build on recent manufacturing gains by bringing together innovative research with product development with the goal of making American factories smarter, faster and more efficient.

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