For as long as a decade, each of the partners has been progressing incrementally on their areas of strength that will support the RESOLVE strategy. As supply chain disruptions occur due to the adoption of electric vehicles, the window to compete with efforts being undertaken in areas such as North Carolina is shrinking. Implementation of RESOLVE will require dedicated and consistent investment at local and state levels to ensure the Erie region and Commonwealth can compete.
RESOLVE is a 10-year vision that requires value mapping of resources to sources. Penn State Behrend has a proven record of attracting companies such as Truck-Lite and SKF to the area—and of creating a strong return for investors who value indicators such as additional external investment, economic growth, adoption of inclusive regional collaboration models, and talent development.
Behrend is the Erie region’s R-1 University, with the unique ability to match research and donation investments with enthusiasm equal to that of its funders. The college’s niche investments in plastics and its strong ties to industry are decades in the making and not easily replicated. These factors combine to make Behrend the natural advocate for and leader of RESOLVE.
Penn State Behrend is advocating for and driving RESOLVE as a priority project for the region, given the strategy’s alignment with the college’s research thrusts of plastics, environmental science, and health. As the lead applicant for the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s Build Back Better Regional Challenge team, the Behrend team continues to work with a diverse range of partners from Gannon University and Impact Corry to the Erie Western PA Port Authority and myriad industry partners.
The 63 letters of support gathered for the Build Back Better challenge included twenty industry partners supporting RESOLVE with pledges of matching investments totaling more than $21 million. Letters of support have been received from:
- Advanced Drainage Systems
- Algeon Materials
- Buffalo Metalcasting
- Engineering Plastics LLC
- Erie Bronze
- Erie Insurance
- Eriez Magnetics
- General Motors
- International Recycling Group
- McInnes Rolled Rings
- Rehrig Pacific
- United Steelworkers Union 3199
- Urick Ductile Solutions
- U.S. Bronze Foundry
- Viking Plastics
Realizing a 10-year vision requires prioritization of assets. The priority for plastics, metal-casting, and transportation industries will be the Center for Manufacturing Competitiveness. Once built, Behrend and its partners can leverage its infrastructure to acquire equipment and research talent to bring it fully online.
Timing of this project’s implementation is short. The region’s manufacturers need to adopt next-generation technologies and practices as the adoption of electric vehicles has disrupted the supply chain—the very supply chain in which these manufacturers are involved. Without change, the new supply chain will migrate toward areas of the United States that are already implementing first generation, energy-efficient, and smart manufacturing facilities.
The laboratories in this new Center for Manufacturing Competitiveness will serve a critical function as a technology development sandbox where industry, faculty, and student talent work side-by-side to shift economic and manufacturing operations from a linear to a forward-thinking circular model.