West Texas Aerospace and Defense Manufacturing Coalition Named as Finalists for $1 Billion “Build Back Better Regional Challenge”

 In Advocating, Coaching, Innovating, News

Today, the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) announced that the West Texas Aerospace and Defense Manufacturing Coalition has been named a finalist for the EDA’s “Build Back Better Regional Challenge.” This grant was designed to assist communities like El Paso accelerating their economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as in making the local economy more resilient to future economic shocks. “Being selected as a finalist in this challenge is an indicator of the hard work and dedication to the aerospace and defense and advanced manufacturing initiatives in our community,” said David Jerome, President and CEO of the El Paso Chamber.

El Paso Makes, partnership of UTEP’s W.M Keck Center for 3D Innovation and Aerospace Center and the El Paso Chamber, proposed a project titled the Reclaiming Aerospace & Defense Manufacturing Dominance through Frontier Technologies. This coalition brings together University, Industry, Governmental and Nonprofit partners to reinvent the El Paso Region’s historical roots in manufacturing and help close America’s gap in aerospace and defense manufacturing capabilities.

The West Texas Aerospace and Defense Manufacturing Coalition focuses on initiatives which will upskill local manufacturing and businesses, thus improving America’s aerospace and defense manufacturing dominance. Dr. Ahsan Choudhuri, Associate Vice President of the Aerospace Center at UTEP, indicated that “We have spent the last two decades growing our research capabilities in aerospace, defense and advanced manufacturing. This initiative is a catalyst for transformative economic change in our community, and this grant will make it possible.”

This investment will jumpstart the coalition’s collective efforts to tackle the enduring challenges in the El Paso region of lagging incomes, brain drain and the hollowing out of a once vibrant U.S. manufacturing base while also making us leaders in environmental sustainability.

Dr. Ryan Wicker, Founder and Director of the W.M. Keck Center for 3D Innovation emphasized, “This achievement was made possible through the incredible work and leadership of the Aerospace and Keck Centers at UTEP. Our proposal was also strengthened by deep collaborations with the City of El Paso, as well as a long list of industry partnerships, including Lockheed Martin, Blue Origin, General Motors, the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining, and more.”

The West Texas Aerospace and Defense Manufacturing Coalition was chosen from a pool of 529 applicants and will receive a sizeable grant to further develop the proposed Reclaiming Aerospace & Defense Manufacturing Dominance through Frontier Technologies Project. Grant finalists will compete for Phase 2 of the Challenge, which will award 20-30 regional coalitions up to $100 million to implement 3-8 projects which support each respective industry sector. For more information about the challenge, visit: https://bit.ly/3GH8LYx. To learn more about the proposed project, visit: https://bit.ly/3s8Bx0l.