The Purdue Center for Regional Development (PCRD) and the Purdue Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) are joining forces with the University of Michigan and Ohio State University to expand the tri-state team's Defense Manufacturing Assistance Program (DMAP). Piloted over the past two years, the Purdue DMAP initiative has helped nearly two dozen defense-impacted industries and communities in the state.
Given the success of the DMAP initiative, the U.S. Department of Defense's Office of Economic Adjustment has awarded Purdue an additional $1.6 million to expand the program.
DMAP was launched in response to critical cutbacks in defense-related contracts awarded to Indiana-based companies. While Indiana firms were awarded about $7.8 billion in Department of Defense related contract activities in 2008, that number slipped to $4.4 billion by 2014, a 44 percent decline over the six-year period. The Purdue team is delivering technical assistance and targeted programs to meet the unique needs of industries and communities that are looking to survive and thrive in this new economic climate.
During the pilot phase (2014-2016), Purdue's MEP team helped Wirth Machine secure special certification, which created new market opportunities for the Evansville, Indiana-based custom-machining company. With assistance from DMAP, Wirth Machine recovered from an unexpected 30 percent loss in revenue and is on pace for a 50 percent growth in the coming year.
"The benefit to companies is enhanced business diversification to offset the losses experienced as a result of the national defense drawdown and sequestration," said MEP director David Snow. "To date, Purdue's MEP (through DMAP) has assessed and made lean manufacturing, quality system and/or market diversification recommendations to 20 Indiana companies, comprising 31 total projects."
PCRD director Bo Beaulieu said, "The Purdue team has helped communities develop plans to stabilize and position the community through in-depth regional industry/occupational cluster analyses, business retention and expansion programs, talent retention/attraction activities and other innovative economic enhancement strategies."
David Augustine, chairman of the Northeast Indiana Defense Industry Association, said that PCRD and MEP have been actively involved in diagnosing issues surrounding the shrinking of the defense industry in northeast Indiana.
"The discussions, dialogue and corresponding research have helped identify transitions to commercial opportunities to offset lost jobs," Augustine said, "while, at the same time, creating a regional marketing campaign 'Why Northeast Indiana for Defense,' which will be launched in the coming weeks to once again bring new defense opportunities to the region."
Alan Tio, senior vice president of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, said, "Purdue has become an important partner in economic development. They initiated a deep understanding of our region's economy and went to great lengths to communicate their findings to regional stakeholders. They remain engaged with us to apply findings from the DMAP research to our efforts to strengthen defense-related manufacturing in northeast Indiana going forward."
The new funds will support another two-and-a-half years of the DMAP project, serving 24 companies and communities across Indiana. The goal is to generate action plans and projects for them to withstand and rebound from economic shockwaves resulting from the downsizing of the nation's military.