Commerce Dept. Designates 31 Regional Tech Hubs to Boost American Innovation, Manufacturing and Jobs

October 23, 2023

Almost 200 regions vied for the national tech hub designation established in Cantwell-led CHIPS and Science Act 

Spokane-based American Aerospace Materials Manufacturing Center designated U.S. tech hub for aerospace materials manufacturing 

Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash), Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, applauded the designation by the Department of Commerce of 31 Regional Innovation and Technology Hubs (Tech Hubs), including Spokane-based American Aerospace Materials Manufacturing Center’s designation as a U.S. tech hub for aerospace materials manufacturing. The Tech Hubs program was established by the CHIPS and Science Act, which Sen. Cantwell spearheaded.

“Today, the Department of Commerce recognized the Spokane region as the nation’s future aerospace advanced materials Technology Hub. Winning this designation to be one of the first CHIPS & Science tech hubs raises a banner over the region saying that the U.S. is all-in on Spokane's potential to generate new discoveries and new jobs," Sen. Cantwell said. "There are already 54 aerospace suppliers within 20 miles of Spokane, and the planned American Aerospace Materials Manufacturing Center is a prime example of the breadth of that ecosystem – the hub brings together educational institutions like Gonzaga, UW and WSU; companies like Boeing and Advanced Thermoplastics Composites; labor groups like the Spokane Workforce Council and the Machinists Institute; Tribes, local government organizations, and more. With today’s designation, Spokane stands poised to compete for new federal investment and prove that while innovation can happen anywhere, the Pacific Northwest leads the way.”

The 31 Tech Hubs will focus on developing and growing innovative industries in regions across the country, including semiconductors, clean energy, critical minerals, biotechnology, precision medicine, artificial intelligence, quantum computing and more, according to the Dept. of Commerce. Tech Hubs bring together private industry, state and local governments, institutions of higher education, labor unions, Tribal communities and nonprofit organizations to compete for up to $75 million implementation grants to further develop these fields and make transformative investments in innovation, supply chain resilience and job creation.

The Spokane designation centers the Inland Northwest as a hub for aerospace suppliers, private investment, new products, and companies in the U.S. aerospace supply chain. According to the consortium, there are 54 aerospace suppliers within 20 miles of Spokane. The hub will focus on research and development of large thermoplastic composite aviation materials, which can make aircraft and spacecraft more fuel-efficient. The global aviation industry is looking to composite materials and advanced manufacturing as a solution to reduce carbon emissions and lower operating costs. Nearly 50 Spokane-area organizations—including Spokane-based Advanced Thermoplastics Composites (ATC), Gonzaga University, and the International Association of Machinists District 751—collaborated on the proposal to establish the American Aerospace Materials Manufacturing Center in Spokane.

Tech Hub Designations for Senate Commerce Committee Democratic Member States:

View the complete list of tech hubs and learn more about the announcement here.

  • American Aerospace Materials Manufacturing Tech Hub (WA, ID), led by Gonzaga University, aims to develop new domestic supply chains to meet the immediate demand for high-rate production of advanced composite aerostructures in defense and commercial markets.
  • Headwaters Hub (MT), led by Accelerate Montana, aims to become a global leader in smart technologies for automating complex processes, such as industrial manufacturing.
  • Elevate Quantum Colorado (CO), led by Elevate Quantum, aims to solidify the region’s global leadership in quantum information technology (QIT) to increase infrastructure resilience and strengthen the quantum hardware supply chain.
  • The Bloch Tech Hub (IL, IN, WI), led by the Chicago Quantum Exchange (CQE), aims to lead quantum computing, communications, and related solutions.
  • iFAB Tech Hub (IL), led by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, aim to scale precision fermentation to convert underutilized corn feedstocks into high-value, customized alternative proteins, food ingredients, materials, chemicals, and more.
  • Wisconsin Biohealth Tech Hub (WI), led by BioForward Wisconsin, aims to position Wisconsin as a global leader in personalized medicine, an emerging healthcare approach that tailors tests, treatments, and therapies informed by a patient’s unique genetic code, medical record, and environment.
  • Minnesota MedTech Hub 3.0 (MMT3.0) (MN, WI), led by the Minneapolis Saint Paul Economic Development Partnership, aims to position Minnesota as a global center for “Smart MedTech” by integrating artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data science into medical technology.
  • SC Nexus for Advanced Resilient Energy (SC, GA) led by the South Carolina Department of Commerce, aims to be a global leader in advanced energy by developing, testing, and deploying exportable electricity technologies.
  • Nevada Lithium Batteries and Other EV Material Loop (NV), led by the University of Nevada, Reno, aims to build a self-sustaining and globally competitive full lithium lifecycle cluster, spanning extraction, processing, manufacturing, and recycling. 
  • Advancing Gallium Nitride (GaN) Tech Hub (VT), led by the University of Vermont, aims to innovate in GaN manufacturing, a critical materials technology for wireless communication.
  • Pacific Northwest Mass Timber Tech Hub (OR, WA), led by Oregon State University, aims to be a global leader in mass timber design and manufacturing to lower the construction industry’s carbon footprint and improve housing affordability.

Sen. Cantwell was the main architect and key negotiator of the CHIPS and Science Act, which created the tech hubs program. In her position as Commerce chair, she was instrumental in securing the science R&D funding authorizations in the 11th hour of negotiations. In April, Sen. Cantwell invited NSF director Sethuraman Panchanathan to Spokane, where he saw firsthand how Spokane organizations have collaborated to drive the region’s current and future potential as a leader in technology innovation. In July, Sen. Cantwell hosted the Washington State Space Summit, bringing together 20 aerospace companies, industry groups, and educators from across the State of Washington for a trade show and panel discussion. Video footage of Sen. Cantwell championing the tech hub program in a speech ahead of the CHIPS and Science Act passing the Senate on July 27, 2022, is available HERE (5:40 – 8:21).