Wichita State among grant recipients as Biden administration awards $1 billion

Wichita State will receive a $51.4 million grant as the Joe Biden presidential administration will announce $1 billion for economic projects.
Published: Sep. 2, 2022 at 8:32 AM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Wichita State will receive a $51.4 million grant as the Joe Biden presidential administration will announce $1 billion for economic projects as part of the Build Back Better Regional Challenge

The money to Wichita State is for the South Kansas Coalition. With $51.4 million in funding from U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, the South Kansas Coalition will move toward boosting the region’s aerospace production to strengthen the United States’ competitive advantage and meet projected industry demand in the coming years.

Together with academic institutions, aerospace industry leaders, and the public sector, the coalition will develop new aerospace production methods and technology to improve manufacturing, create a workforce training facility, and provide training for existing workers.

The South Kansas Coalition is one of 21 winners – each a regional coalition of partnering entities – that will receive awards between $25 million and $65 million to implement an average of six integrative projects that will enable each region’s economic transformation and competitiveness.

WSU Senior Vice President for Industry and Defense Programs Dr. John Tomblin said he grant is “transformational.”

Wichita State is part of a 27-county coalition in southern Kansas that will use the funds to ensure the area and the U.S. are ready for the next evolution of advanced manufacturing built on digital and automation technologies.

“If we do not continue to lean in and be leaders in the adoption of these technologies, our competitive advantage will begin to erode,” said Wichita State Associate Vice President of Strategic Initiatives.

The funds will work to serve four main goal with $9 million going to training and research and $14 million in support of businesses making this transition.

There will be a $26 million new facility built at WSU to propel this work. The remaining fund will go to area governments and economic development efforts to support the projects.

“We’re so known for our manufacturing. The fact that we were even picked for this grant, I think proves that, but we really get to have a part in the future of what this looks like,” Sedgwick County Commissioner Sarah Lopez said.

For area leaders, the grant will help to grow the industry locally, as well.

“Going to take us to the next level,” Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple said. “Wichita is going to be a national and international leader in this space, and it’s because of this investment.”