Labor Department awards $5M to develop rapid response manufacturing in Rio Grande Valley

The U.S. Department of Labor has awarded the North American Advanced Manufacturing Research and Education Initiative (NAAMREI) more than $5M to support the region’s Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development (WIRED) Project, a plan to develop a rapid response manufacturing (RRM) facility and create a sustainable premier manufacturing infrastructure in South Texas’ Rio Grande Region. The Texas Workforce Commission has also committed an additional $3M in training funds to bolster the project.

The new RRM facility will be housed in the proposed North American Research and Education World Premier Park to be established on 80 acres currently owned by the City of McAllen. It will be located adjacent to another 200 acres owned by a large private development complex focused on research and development opportunities. The $5M from the Department will be used as seed money to establish a Center for Rapid Response Manufacturing, as well as the establishment of three Advanced Manufacturing Training Institutes that will respond to the customized training needs of the workforce. The $3M from the TWC Skills Development Fund will be used to support training initiatives. There will be opportunities to serve a variety of industries, including automotive, electronics, consumer goods, health care products, and many others with a presence in the region.

Keith Patridge, president and CEO of the McAllen Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and founding member of NAAMREI, said, “Our local economy is flourishing and we already have a solid manufacturing infrastructure in place to act as a basis for this new rapid response research and advanced manufacturing complex. It is such a pleasure to see our tax monies coming back to the area to be used to create jobs and growth opportunities for our community. That is what we at MEDC are all about economic development and creating a better life for our citizens.”

“We see this project as the next logical step in maintaining the economic vitality of this growing region,” said U.S. Congressman Rubén Hinojosa. “The long term goal of the initiative is to position the region as the ‘Third Coast,’ acting as a major distribution hub for North America and as a major research center for rapid product innovation and advanced manufacturing. As a native of the Valley and a long-time proponent of this project, I am so pleased to see it coming to fruition. I have seen the changes occurring in my home district and I know what my constituents are capable of. Many have underestimated our ability and commitment in the past, but are starting to take notice now and giving us the chance to make our mark.”

U.S. Congressman Henry Cuellar said, “This is an important milestone for the businesses and educational institutions that have put many man hours into forming this coalition, proving its abilities and its intent to my colleagues in Washington,” said Congressman Cuellar. “This project will bring about a new level in high-skilled labor opportunities that Valley residents are thirsty to see. These are some of the hardest working people in the U.S. and are devoted to the region’s continued prosperity. I have no doubt that the WIRED Project will put the RGV on the map as one of the world’s premier centers for rapid product innovation and advanced manufacturing.”

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