LAKESHORE ADVANTAGE RECEIVES GRANT FOR INDUSTRY 4.0 READINESS

Posted in News on April 29, 2021

 LAKESHORE ADVANTAGE RECEIVES GRANT FOR INDUSTRY 4.0 READINESS

 Michigan Strategic Fund approved $92k in West Michigan to support Industry 4.0 readiness 

04/29/2021 // ZEELAND, MICH. Lakeshore Advantage, the local economic development organization that assists employers with growth opportunities in Ottawa and Allegan counties, received $92,787 in grant funding to increase manufacturers’ Industry 4.0 technology adoption readiness. Implementing Industry 4.0 technologies into operations helps manufacturers by creating opportunities for improved efficiency, higher revenues, and increased innovation. 

“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,” said Jennifer Owens, Lakeshore Advantage President. “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.” 

Lakeshore Advantage applied for the grant, in partnership with The Right Place, Greater Muskegon Economic Development, and Michigan Manufacturing Technical Center-West (The Center-West). This partnership will allow for the Industry 4.0 readiness initiative to be extended to Ottawa, Allegan, Muskegon, and Kent counties’ employers. The partners are providing $21,400 of in-kind match to this project. 

“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 & CEO, The Right Place, Inc. “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 economic development partners will assess the stage of Industry 4.0 adoption of the region’s manufacturers and navigate them to the appropriate Industry 4.0 implementation partners, including The Center-West. 

“For over 25 years, The Center’s program has been a valued regional resource for manufacturers in West Michigan,” said Justine Burdette, Vice President - Technical Services, The Right Place, Inc. and Regional Director, The Center-West. “This new industry 4.0 assessment provides tremendous value no matter where a manufacturer is on their technology journey. It provides a complete road map, recommending both current and future technology improvements throughout the production value chain.” 

The grant will enable tools to be created, including a readiness assessment and awareness campaign with informational videos and a website. These new resources will make Industry 4.0 and its benefits relevant to area manufacturers and connect them with next steps to implement new technologies. 

"We know that right now the biggest challenge our manufacturers face is their inability to find and retain qualified workers. One strategy to help address this is to implement Industry 4.0 practices, and to become as efficient as possible with the people they already have,” said Morgan Carroll, Greater Muskegon Economic Development Director of Business Development. “These funds will allow companies in our region to learn about Industry 4.0 and apply its principles to improve their productivity and reduce the impact the current workforce shortage is having on their business." 

In total, the Michigan Strategic Fund approved nearly $2M in grants for 10 nonprofit organizations around the state to provide regional Industry 4.0 programming and services. The funding is part of an MEDC-led effort to ensure that 50 percent of Michigan manufacturers are prepared to adopt Industry 4.0 technologies at some level by 2025. You can find a list of all grantees at www.michiganbusiness.org/press-releases/2021/04/msf-approve-business-expansion-se-mi-grant-funding-drive-economic-growth/

“Through our statewide Industry 4.0 awareness initiative, we’re working to ensure Industry 4.0 readiness for our small and medium-sized manufacturers, which will protect our leadership in manufacturing and position our workforce for success,” said Josh Hundt, Chief Business Development Officer and Executive Vice President at the MEDC. “We’re pleased to support the efforts of Lakeshore Advantage, The Right Place, Greater Muskegon Economic Development, and Michigan Manufacturing Technical Center-West, to support this effort by working collaboratively to build Industry 4.0 awareness and readiness among manufacturers in several key industries in their region.” 

Industry 4.0, also known as the “Fourth Industrial Revolution,” is the next phase of manufacturing improvement. Emerging technology sectors encompassed in Industry 4.0 include: Cybersecurity, Augmented & Virtual Reality, Big Data, Robotics/Automation, Additive Manufacturing/3D Printing, Simulation, System Integration, and Cloud Computing/Internet of Things.