University Partnership Supports Embattled Defense Contractors

An agreement between three Big Ten universities helped generate hundreds of new jobs across their respective states.

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University of Michigan/YouTube

A partnership between three large Midwestern universities is credited with creating hundreds of new jobs in the defense supply chain at an otherwise tough time for the industry, campus officials said Thursday.

The University of Michigan, Ohio State University and Purdue University formed the Defense Manufacturing Assistance Program six years ago amid tighter federal spending and a slowdown in U.S. military involvement overseas. Michigan officials said those universities’ home states — Michigan, Indiana and Ohio — lost an estimated 6,800 jobs in the defense supply chain in recent years.

The collaboration, aimed at helping those companies revamp and diversify their operations, provided 125 firms with financial, marketing, technical and other support, according to the University of Michigan’s Economic Growth Institute. EGI Director Paula Sorrell noted that those companies saw contracts worth at least 10% of their revenue vanish.

“It was estimated that 50% or more of the defense supply chain was at risk,” Sorrell told campus officials.

The collaboration, Michigan officials said, led to 662 new jobs across those three states, along with 139 new products, 93 new markets and $183 million in added sales.

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