The Center for Manufacturing Advancement. Photo by Grace Mamon.

The Center for Manufacturing Advancement will open in Danville today to offer services to manufacturers that are opening or expanding their presence in Southern Virginia. 

The CMA will also “promote collaboration among advanced manufacturers to innovate process, quality, and technologies,” according to an Oct. 3 release. 

Gov. Glenn Youngkin is scheduled to open the ceremony at 8:30 a.m. with remarks about the center’s opening. Then, at noon, there will be a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the CMA, and its first tenant will be revealed. 

The identity of the first tenant will be revealed alongside a “major economic development,” according to the release. 

The center is located on the campus of Danville’s Institute for Advanced Learning and Research. It will be managed by the IALR. 

“As a state project, the CMA is a sign of Virginia’s commitment to continuing innovative leadership in advanced manufacturing for both existing and new industry partners in order to maintain a competitive edge in economic development activity,” said IALR in a statement to Cardinal. 

The CMA is a $28.8 million project with 51,250 square feet of space that includes office space, meeting rooms, areas to house support services, and amenities for manufacturer tenants. 

The amenities include: 

  • Rapid-launch facilities to allow new businesses to begin limited offsite operations while their locations are under construction. This will eliminate the downtime that typically happens while new businesses wait for their factory to be constructed and ready for operations
  • An ISO-certified inspection lab, which will provide product quality validation and “reduce the start-up phase for a new company by four to sixth months, the time required to certify an inspection lab,” according to IALR’s website. 
  • Process improvement labs that will allow both new and established businesses to efficiently improve their processes with the goal of ensuring global competitiveness 
  • A platform for innovative collaboration, which will enable manufacturers, technology companies and engineering students to work together 
  • Concierge services to provide wrap-around support needed for companies that are new to the United States during their start-up phase. 

Danville, a former tobacco and textile manufacturing town, has been working to become a modern manufacturing hub. IALR, a self-described regional catalyst for economic transformation, has been helping. 

IALR focuses on building the manufacturing pipeline, something that Jay Timmons, CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers, said was crucial during his September talk at the Institute on the future of advanced manufacturing. 

The Institute is doing this through programs like GO TEC, a program to get middle schoolers interested in manufacturing careers, and through the Accelerated Training in Defense Manufacturing program, a four-month pilot program to develop a shipbuilding workforce for the U.S. Department of Defense. 

“[ATDM] was developed as a prototype training platform for rapidly skilling workers in key trades supporting the nation’s submarine industrial base,” said the Oct. 3 release. 

As such, the ribbon-cutting ceremony will coincide with the two-day Accelerated Training in Defense Manufacturing summit, which brings federal, state, local and industry stakeholders together “on topics pertaining to closing skills and workforce gaps within the defense industrial base,” the release said. 

The summit’s keynote speaker, Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro, will also speak at the event, in between the governor’s remarks and the ribbon-cutting. 

In September, IALR announced that the executive vice president for its manufacturing advancement had been selected. 

Todd Yeatts. Courtesy of IALR.

Todd Yeatts, former senior manager for government operations at Boeing Company in Arlington, will oversee the manufacturing advancement training programs at IALR, as well as the operation of the CMA. 

He is also the former Assistant City Manager in Danville. His first day with IALR was Oct. 3. 

Yeatts’ unique background will help him assist Southern Virginia in its role as a manufacturing hub, said Telly Tucker, president of IAL, in a release. 

“Maintaining strategic relationships with government, industry, education and technology stakeholders will help provide critical support and awareness, especially as we grow our training programs to serve not only our regional workforce but national and defense industrial base needs as well,” Tucker said. 

Grace Mamon

Grace Mamon is a reporter for Cardinal News. Reach her at grace@cardinalnews.org.