IMCP Communities Present at Regional Studies Association North American Conference

Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) community representatives from across the country converged for a manufacturing-focused panel at the Regional Studies Association North American conference, which was held on June 16th at the Historic Academy of Medicine in Midtown Atlanta.  The conference was themed, “Cities and Regions: Managing Growth and Change”.  Building on this theme, the panel centered the discussion on “Regional Collaboration for Effective Economic Development Manufacturing Strategies: IMCP Communities”.

IMCP is one of the White House Administration’s main programs to support job creation and accelerate manufacturing growth by transforming their industrial ecosystems into globally-competitive manufacturing hubs.  Administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration, IMCP does this by leveraging federal resources from across key government agencies with priority projects that IMCP communities identify for their key industry sectors.


Map courtesy of the University of Southern California Center for Economic Development

All of the panelists who presented at the RSA session work directly with communities and regions in a collaborative capacity to enhance manufacturing ecosystems across six key areas:

1) workforce and training;
2) supplier networks;
3) research and innovation;
4) infrastructure and site development;
5) trade and international access; and
6) operational improvement and capital access.

This integrated approach has helped regions across the country identify gaps in the current manufacturing ecosystem, develop strategies to improve the climate for jobs and investment, and create strong and committed partnership networks to implement those strategies.  Panelists shared their experiences – best practices, lessons learned, and practical advice – on how to build a strong manufacturing ecosystem and influence regional policy using collaboration and partnerships generated through the IMCP program.

Panelists for the session included:

  • Deepak Bahl, Program Director, USC Center for Economic Development and adjunct associate professor at the USC Price School of Public Policy.  Deepak also helps manage the AMP SoCal IMCP.
  • Debra Franklin, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Wichita State University, WSU Ventures.  Debbie also manages the South Kansas IMCP.
  • Erin Ketelle, Economic Development Program Manager at University of Tennessee Institute for Public Service, and TN’s DRIVE for the Future IMCP.
  • Julie Wenah, Counselor and Policy Advisor, U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration.  Julie leads the White House National Economic Council initiative that currently supports 24 communities across the country, aka IMCP.

The panel was moderated by Leigh Hopkins with the Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute’s Center for Economic Development Research (CEDR).  Leigh also co-manages the Northwest Georgia IMCP with the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission for the 15-county northwest Georgia region.


The panelists tour ATDC during their Atlanta visit. From left to right: Leigh Hopkins, Julie Wenah, Erin Ketelle, Debra Franklin, Johanna Kaiser (ATDC) and Deepak Bahl. 

The Regional Studies Association provides a platform for researchers to address the effects of policy, organizational, and institutional innovations and their impact on work, identity, governance, production networks, infrastructure investments, technology diffusion, and place.  The annual North American conference was co-organized by Dr. Jennifer Clark with the Center for Urban Innovation at Georgia Tech.  The conference focused on the regional policy implications of emerging forms of governance and policy delivery relative to uneven development and inequality of market liberalization, financialization, and global competition in an era of recovering financial markets.  It also included a tour of Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), a technology business incubator in the heart of Tech Square.

For questions, contact:
Leigh Hopkins, AICP
Phone: 404-894-0933 | Fax: 404-410-6910
Email: ude.hcetag.etavonninull@snikpoh.hgiel

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