Regional
11:55 am
Thu March 13, 2014

Legislators Push For Federal Manufacturing Community Designation In Albuquerque

U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and U.S. Reps. Steve Pearce, Ben Ray Luján and Michelle Lujan Grisham are advocating for New Mexico Advanced Photonics Manufacturing Consortium in Albuquerque to be recognized by the federal government as a “Manufacturing Community,” a designation that could make it eligible for up to $1.3 billion in future federal investment to further economic development strategies.

The delegation together wrote a letter in support of an application by the consortium, a collaboration of national laboratories, private industry, universities, community colleges, local governments and nonprofit organizations. The delegation and the members of the public-private partnership say New Mexico’s extensive expertise make it a natural location for additional national investment in research and manufacturing of optics and photonics technologies, which are used in robotics, medical imaging, next-generation displays, defense, biometric security and many other fields.

“Optics and photonics technology represents a field of science and engineering full of pathways for commercial, industrial and military applications,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter to the Economic Development Administration’s Interagency Review Panel. “Each of these applications provides an opportunity to improve our national security and competitive advantage in the global market through innovative manufacturing technologies.”

The administration’s Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership will select up to 12 “Manufacturing Communities,” giving them elevated consideration for up to $1.3 billion as well as assistance with workforce and training, advanced research, infrastructure and site development, supply chain support, export promotion and capital access.

The goal of the initiative is to encourage communities to devise comprehensive economic development strategies that strengthen their competitive edge in attracting global manufacturers and their supply chains.

Not only is New Mexico a leader in optics and photonics capabilities, the delegation and advocates say, optics and photonics are increasingly critical across a broad spectrum of commercial and national defense industries. Strengthening New Mexico’s capabilities would help ensure the United States continues to lead the world in optics and photonics development and manufacturing.

“Optics and photonics address and solve many of the challenges of the modern worlds, and we want those solutions to be researched, developed and manufactured in the United States,” the delegation wrote.

“We are in strong support of this broad collaborative effort, and request that you give the New Mexico Advanced Photonics Manufacturing Consortium’s submission full and fair consideration,” the letter concludes.

A full copy of the letter is below and HERE.

Economic Development Administration

Office of Performance & National Programs

U.S. Department of Commerce

1401 Constitution Avenue NW, Suite 71030

Washington, DC 20230

Dear Interagency Review Panel:

We are writing in support of the New Mexico Advanced Photonics Manufacturing Consortium’s application to be designated as a Manufacturing Community. In response to the President’s call for a National Network for Manufacturing and Innovation (NNMI), a collaboration of National Laboratories, industry, universities, community colleges, local governments, and non-profit organizations have come together in New Mexico.

The consortium has developed a complete proposal for the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s open solicitation for the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) program. The consortium’s unique public-private partnership is building on New Mexico’s core capabilities and strengths in optics and photonics, and leveraging our region’s innovative capacity to sustain and grow United States leadership in the application of light based technologies.

Optics and photonics address and solve many of the challenges of the modern world, and we want those solutions to be researched, developed and manufactured in the United States. Light-based technologies directly respond to the needs of humankind. The modern technology around you – your phone, computer, TV – and the communications technologies that enable these devices to function are all made possible largely by optics and photonics. Other technologies benefit from optics and photonics as well, including advanced manufacturing, robotics, medical imaging, next-generation displays, defense technologies, biometric security, image processing, communications, and many others.

In 2012, the National Academies National Research Council released a Report, “Optics and Photonics, Essential Technologies for Our Nation,” which emphasized the importance of these technologies. The United Nations proclaimed 2015 as the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies, showing the international significance of these technologies.  Because photonics is a very broad field, the consortium has evaluated several strategic focus areas, to determine the scope of each opportunity. 

Optics and photonics technology represents a field of science and engineering full of pathways for commercial, industrial and military applications. Each of these applications provides an opportunity to improve our national security and competitive advantage in the global market through innovative manufacturing technologies.

We are in strong support of this broad collaborative effort, and request that you give the New Mexico Advanced Photonics Manufacturing Consortium’s submission full and fair consideration.