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2023 News Release Archive

NIC, Aerospace Leaders, Universities & More Apply to Establish a World-Class Testbed for Production, Commercialization, and Entrepreneurship

Posted: Thursday, Aug 17, 2023
The former Triumph facility would house the American Aerospace Materials Manufacturing Center
The former Triumph facility would house the American Aerospace Materials Manufacturing Center

Leading aerospace companies and research universities have joined nearly 50 area workforce training, venture capital, economic development, labor, tribal and government groups in the Inland Northwest to support establishing the American Aerospace Materials Manufacturing Center (AAMMC).

Under the Regional Technology and Innovation Hubs (Tech Hubs) program, this consortium of members from Washington and Northern Idaho proposes to advance U.S. economic and national security through creation of the American Aerospace Materials Manufacturing Center. The Center’s advancements will result in new domestic supply chains, able to meet the global high-rate production demands of advanced composite aero structures for both the defense and commercial markets.

Consortium members are enthusiastic and laser-focused on reversing the trend toward foreign suppliers and eager for consideration by the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) for the Tech Hub designation in Phase 1, followed by an implementation grant selection in Phase 2. The EDA will designate 20 Tech Hubs in the nation in Phase 1. Only those awarded this Tech Hub designation in Phase 1 will compete for Phase 2 grant, each approximately $65 million.

“This is a big deal for NIC to participate alongside nine other regional higher ed institutions in partnership with leaders in industry, research, and workforce,” stated Nick Swayne, president of North Idaho College. “It represents NIC’s forward-thinking and our dynamic presence in collaborating with key partners to further opportunities for our students and have an impact on our region’s economic development.”

Gonzaga University is the lead higher education institution for the consortium. NIC has a longstanding relationship with Gonzaga in partnering on projects that enhance opportunities and experiences for students in our region. If funded, NIC will receive a portion of the funding to develop supportive programming the Tech Hub in phase 1 and participate on the consortium team to compete for the larger, phase 2 grant. 

The American Aerospace Materials Manufacturing Center will integrate education and workforce training with small and medium-sized industry partners, alongside global aerospace leaders and advanced research institutions. This collaboration will enhance learning, training, and broaden the knowledge base of advanced composite materials.

This new Center will accelerate growth of our domestic supply base:

  • Establish a testbed facility for large thermoplastic composite (TPC) aerospace materials at Technology Readiness Levels six through nine, such as ribs, beams, doors, bulkheads, and stiffened skins.
  • Advance a market disrupting, high-rate production solution that maintains the same performance of most advanced composite aero structures flying today at low production rates.
  • Expedite net-zero carbon emission goals by 2050 for NASA and the aerospace industry.
  • Upskill our current workforce, coordinate with Tribal nations and workforce leaders, and utilize the best-practices for supporting underrepresented communities, in both Washington and Idaho, to model the next generation of aerospace jobs. 
  • Center the Inland Northwest as a destination for aerospace suppliers and private investment to support new products and companies within the U.S. aerospace supply chain.

The Center’s application would repurpose a 386,000 sq ft former manufacturing facility on 50 acres adjacent to the Spokane International Airport. This testbed will reflect an inclusive framework designed to expedite the evolution and commercialization of the domestic aerospace supply chain, foster education, attract robust entrepreneurial interest, and drive private sector investments into new companies.

The two-phase Technology Hubs awards are decided by the Economic Development Administration (EDA) in coordination with the National Science Foundation (NSF) under the U.S. Department of Commerce. Selection is based on potential of the region for global competitiveness; participation of industry; equity and inclusion; capacity of workforce; “lab to market” products; and overall impact on American economic and national security. Due to the strong regional collaboration of this consortium, the American Aerospace Materials Manufacturing Center application excels in each of these categories and looks forward to working together to further this exciting opportunity for the Inland Northwest and the nation.

Consortium Members -- American Aerospace Materials Manufacturing Center

Aerospace and Industry Leaders

  • Boeing
  • Unitech Composites Inc.
  • Electroimpact
  • Advanced Thermoplastics Composites (ATC) Manufacturing
  • Northwest I-90 Manufacturing Alliance
  • StanCraft
  • Avista
  • Continuous Composites Incorporated (CCI)
  • Blue Origin
  • Raytheon/Collins
  • Lockheed Martin

Higher Education and Secondary Education

  • Gonzaga University
  • University of Idaho
  • University of Washington
  • Eastern Washington University
  • Community Colleges of Spokane
  • North Idaho College
  • Spokane Public Schools
  • Coeur d’Alene Public Schools
  • Elevate North Academy
  • Washington State University

Venture Development

  • Washington Trust Bank
  • Lakeside Companies

Workforce Development and Labor

  • Spokane Workforce Council
  • International Association of Machinists District 751
  • Machinists Institute
  • Idaho Workers Development Council
  • Coeur d’Alene Economic Development Corporation

Government, Tribes, and Economic Development

  • Washington State Department of Commerce
  • Idaho State Department of Commerce
  • Spokane Tribe of Indians
  • Kalispel Tribe of Indians
  • City of Post Falls
  • City of Coeur d’Alene
  • Spokane County
  • Greater Spokane Inc.
  • S3R3 Solutions
  • Spokane International Airport
  • Coeur d’Alene Regional Chamber
  • West Plains Chamber of Commerce
  • City of Spokane
  • Coeur d’Alene Tribe
  • Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce

In Coordination with

  • Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
  • NASA
  • Additional Defense OEMs

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