New "Biz Plan" for Region Hopes to Jumpstart Manufacturers' Innovation

Small to medium size manufacturers are a big deal to NE Ohio's economy. These companies generate nearly half of the region's $29 B billion in manufacturing output. But recent struggles in the auto and steel sectors have highlighted these companies need to find new customers. Local business development groups have been helping in that effort. Now the Washington-based Brookings Institution has stepped in to lend expertise with a new pilot initiative called - its got a long name here - Partnership for Regional Innovation Services to Manufacturers. Its much less painful acronym is PRISM. PRISM will be headed by MAGNET, a local economic development organization that works with manufacturers. MAGNET's John Schober says the effort will help connect companies with whatever they need to find new products and new markets.

John Schober: If they want to start developing an entirely new product for the business that they are currently in, we want to help them do that. If they say I want to pursue this new opportunity in say a solar opportunity, we want to help them to do that. The big thing is getting them outside of their comfort zone.

Schober hopes to start off with three to four companies, eventually growing to 56 companies in three years. Minneapolis/St Paul and Puget Sound are two other areas also working on pilot regional business plans. Mhari Saito, 90.3.

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