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SoCal among first 12 regions to get federal manufacturing aid

SoCal among first 12 regions to get federal manufacturing aid
A worker in Valencia assembles an ultraviolet device to be used in hospitals. Southern California is one of a dozen regions chosen to receive federal help in strengthening manufacturing. (Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)

Southern California is among the first dozen U.S. communities chosen by the federal government to receive support in their efforts to attract manufacturers.

The program, which is headed by the Commerce Department, aims to grow local manufacturing capacity by attracting private investment and boosting exports.

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Participants can tap the expertise of 11 federal agencies – including the Small Business Administration and the Agriculture, Defense and Transportation departments – as well as $1.3 billion in funding.

Representatives from 70 regions nationwide applied to the program. The 12 chosen communities were selected because they had stronger economic development proposals, more potential to affect residents and deeper public and private partnerships.

In Los Angeles County, manufacturing employment has dropped precipitously in the last 25 years, from 826,100 workers in April 1990 to 621,700 workers during the same month in 2000.

Last month, the state Employment Development Department calculated that 355,900 people were working in the industry in the region.

Southern California's plans will be led by USC's Center for Economic Development. Other participants include southwest Alabama, northwest Georgia, the Chicago metropolitan region, south Kansas, the greater Portland portion of Maine, southeastern Michigan, the New York Finger Lakes district, the southwestern Ohio aerospace sector, Tennessee Valley, the Washington Puget Sound area and Milwaukee.

More communities will be added to the program later this year.

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