America Makes gives the Mahoning Valley the chance to be a "national and, frankly, international leader in an industry," said Rick Stockburger, president and CEO of BRITE Energy Innovators in Warren. The nonprofit economic development organization, which supports entrepreneurs in the energy space, bases its work in part on what America Makes has been able to accomplish in the region, Stockburger said.
America Makes, along with the Youngstown Business Incubator, has been able to draw companies in additive manufacturing to the region, he said, and others have changed how they do business. There's "momentum" in the space, he said.
Guy Coviello, president and CEO of the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, said awareness of additive manufacturing has grown, and a number of companies throughout the Mahoning Valley have been able to "reinvent" themselves with the technology. Awareness of the importance of training and reskilling in this area is also growing, as existing manufacturers start to incorporate additive manufacturing in their processes.
Having America Makes in Youngstown has helped bring attention to that need for Northeast Ohio's manufacturers, educators and workforce development groups, Coviello said. There's still a ways to go, but he doesn't think the region would be where it is today in that journey if it wasn't for America Makes.
And America Makes gives the region the chance to serve as a hub for additive manufacturing, a place where lots of companies embrace the technology and employees know how to use it. Coviello said this is especially important as the auto industry moves from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles, and as companies need to adapt and enter new supply chains.
America Makes has made an impact in its first decade, but Bill Koehler, CEO of economic development organization Team NEO, thinks the institute will be even more important in the next 10 years. Like any startup, it takes time to build a solid strategy and a strong team. And they've done a good job of that, he said, and of forming the relationships they need for the future.
And as the institute has grown, so has the technology of additive manufacturing, Koehler said. He thinks it will play an increasingly larger role going forward, as industries like automotive and aerospace change rapidly.
"I think we're fortunate to have an organization like theirs in our market, and the opportunity for us is to figure out how to take advantage of that, to capitalize on their presence and extend it," Koehler said.
In the 10 years since America Makes' founding, the region has seen a concentration of additive manufacturing companies starting or locating here, Wilczynski said. He attributes that not just to the institute but to a collaborative effort made by area organizations like the Youngstown Business Incubator and higher education institutions.
And it's not just locals who are glad to see Youngstown making its mark. The region has a history to it. Miraj of AlphaSTAR said he's grateful America Makes' home is in Youngstown.
"Because so much of American industry started in Ohio," he said. "To see it kind of getting rebuilt there, through additive, is a really positive thing."