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FY 2015 Defense Spending By State report now available for download.

DIA Strategies

Most DIA projects deal with very similar issues, and because they do, they often pursue related policy and program recommendations. Some common leading practices emerge within DIA projects. Below are five areas that may you may want to consider in developing your DIA program:

Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development

Many communities will develop a local entrepreneurship initiative as part of their approach to defense transitions. This effort will typically entail more aggressive assistance and coaching for start-ups, business acceleration programs, improved access to “orphan” intellectual property, and other specialized services. In other cases, communities expand workforce development programs to provide start-up assistance to displaced workers (see more below).

To Learn More: Here are a few sites with good information on the connections between economic development and entrepreneurship:

Export Promotion

When defense firms lose business, they need to identify new markets. In addition, the largest potential markets don’t exist at home—they are overseas. Many communities develop export promotion initiatives as a means to help defense-impacted firms identify and capture new markets. These export promotion programs typically take the form of small investments to help firms attend trade shows and the like, along with technical assistance, market intelligence and other support to help them better understand the global marketplace.

To learn more:

Industry Cluster Development

Industry clusters refer to “regional concentration(s) of related industries in a particular location…They consist of companies, suppliers, and service providers, as well as government agencies and other institutions that provide specialized training and education, information, research, and technical support.”

Clusters have been a popular and widely used economic development strategy in the US and overseas for at least 10-15 years. It is likely that your project region has already assessed local clusters or developed some related strategies. If not, this approach might be worth considering.

To Learn More:

  • The EDA-backed US Cluster Mapping Initiative is the best single source to understand the concept of industry clusters, and more importantly, to map clusters in a target region. The site includes a useful library and well as a searchable database of clusters located across the US.
  • Cluster strategies are even more popular in Europe. By visiting the European Cluster Observatory, you can learn from leading practices and see what’s happening with hundreds of cluster programs located across Europe.

Manufacturing and Supply Chain Mapping

Defense manufacturing involves complex supply chains that link prime contractors with dozens, if not hundreds of suppliers and subcontractors. Supply chain maps can help community leaders in a number of ways: The supply chain maps:

  • Help identify suppliers and other sectors at risk in the event of a local company or plant closure;
  • Can identify potential new markets for these at-risk firms;
  • May identify local gaps in the supply chain where an OEM is using overseas suppliers and can help support reshoring efforts as well; and
  • Help point state, local and regional policy makers identify which existing assets can be aligned to respond to supply chain issues.

Supply chain mapping is a complex analytical exercise that usually calls for consulting or academic expertise. These efforts should include mapping analysis used to drive program and project design. This data can be used to target technical assistance for local SMEs or to help EDOs understand gaps in local supply chains.

To learn more:

  • The NIST-MEP program has invested significant resources to help small firms develop supply chain optimization programs.
  • Making In America: This excellent 2014 White House report offers a good summary of key issues facing US manufacturing.
  • The Federal IMCP initiative includes a place-based playbook for revitalizing manufacturing communities.
  • The Manufacturing Institute has helped generate significant public attention about workforce challenges and skills gaps in manufacturing.

Enhancing Workforce Development

Workforce development—or talent development—is probably the most important issue affecting a community economic development potential. Workforce quality is the number one concern expressed by CEOs at all levels. All businesses want and need workers who are ready to work and have the skills and competencies needed in the modern world of business.

The specific needs of each community will differ depending on the affected defense industries and the overall mix of the regional economy. A manufacturing-heavy region will likely need skilled technicians and production workers; a high-tech region may have a need for sophisticated researchers and scientists. While the specifics of a region’s workforce development needs and strategies vary, you will likely face several types of challenges in re-skilling or up-skilling workers to compete in your changed economy.

To Learn More

  • The National Association of Workforce Boards (NAWB) is a great source to learn about what WIBs do and the issues concerning WIB members and staff.
  • Jobs for the Future: A think tank that provides excellent information on a host of workforce development issues.
  • Workforce3 One: The Department of Labor’s clearinghouse of information on workforce development issues.