ZEELAND — Economic development firm Lakeshore Advantage was one of 10 organizations to receive Michigan Strategic Fund grants to promote Industry 4.0 adoption and readiness among area manufacturers.
Lakeshore Advantage, which assists businesses in Ottawa and Allegan counties with growth opportunities, announced today that it received $92,787 from the Michigan Strategic Fund. The division of the Michigan Economic Development Corp. distributed a total of $1.9 million as part of the state agency’s effort to put statewide manufacturers ahead of the Industry 4.0 curve.
The Manufacturing Growth Alliance also received $271,851 for its efforts in Region 8 of the state, which includes Southwest Michigan. Traverse City-based Network Northwest received $275,000 to promote the efforts in the northwest region of the state.
“With one in three of our region’s jobs in manufacturing, Industry 4.0 technologies are critical to West Michigan’s economic and job growth,” Lakeshore Advantage President Jennifer Owens said in a statement. “This grant supercharges initiatives to secure our region’s place as an Industry 4.0 leader, recognizing West Michigan as the place to be for leading edge manufacturing technologies. We are grateful to MEDC for funding this initiative and are looking forward to working with employers, smart manufacturing implementers and regional partners as we focus on our region’s industry success.”
While Lakeshore Advantage was the grantee, the organization teamed up with The Right Place Inc., Greater Muskegon Economic Development and the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center-West to submit the grant application.
Lakeshore Advantage will work with those organizations — each of which are providing $21,400 of in-kind matches to the project — in achieving grant milestones and extending the footprint of their efforts across the region.
“This is a great example of what can be achieved when we work together as a region to support our businesses in the area,” said Randy Thelen, president and CEO of The Right Place. “Together with partners, we will bring state of the art Industry 4.0 resources to our region’s manufacturers, increase their global competitiveness, and drive new prosperity in our community.”
The organizations will utilize the funds to create resources for local manufacturers, such as informational videos and websites, while working one-on-one with companies to assess their Industry 4.0 posture and assist them in taking steps to implement new technology.
The Manufacturing Growth Alliance will partner with the Economic Growth Institute (EGI) at the University of Michigan to support small manufacturers with knowledge, resources and tools to leverage Industry 4.0 technologies to be globally competitive.
"There are three focus areas of the grant to support small manufacturers — first, building awareness, education and training related to Industry 4.0 technologies," Jennifer Deamud, executive director of MGA, told MiBiz. "Second, providing in-depth financial analysis and operational analysis to manufacturers. Third, offering grants to small manufacturers to support the implementation of Industry 4.0 technologies.
"Adopting Industry 4.0 technology is essential if small manufacturers are to compete on a global scale," Deamud added. "The grants MGA received will support new pathways for MGA to help small manufacturers be equipped to leverage new technologies."
At the end of 2020, the MEDC gained approval for $2 million from the Michigan Strategic Fund board to solicit regional grant proposals from eligible organizations that are interested in increasing Industry 4.0 awareness and readiness for local manufacturers.
The MEDC received a total of 14 proposals totaling just over $3 million, 10 of which were ultimately recommended to the MSF board and approved.
The MEDC has made this recent push to promote Industry 4.0 as it eyes the goal of putting 50 percent of Michigan manufacturers in a position to adopt industry 4.0 technologies by 2025. The MEDC’s efforts focus on small to medium-size manufacturers, which are lagging behind their larger counterparts when it comes to adopting Industry 4.0 concepts and technology.
Editor's note: This story has been updated with comments from the Manufacturing Growth Alliance.