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Editor’s Note: Disruptive Technologies Continue to Change the Face of Manufacturing

Robotics, additive manufacturing, the IoT and other disruptive technologies are helping manufacturers boost productivity and cut costs; the states and metro areas that have the know-how to help businesses become innovative are recognized in our Shovel Awards and Leading Locations reports.

Q2 2016
According to PwC’s 2016 Industrial Manufacturing Trends report, investments in technology are “essential” for the growth of the U.S. manufacturing sector. Innovations — including robotics, augmented reality, 3D printing, the Internet of Things, and other disruptive technologies — are helping to boost productivity and cut costs, as noted in the report. And, according to Nitin Rakesh, CEO and president of leading digital modernization firm Syntel, “Financial pressures in the manufacturing sector are prompting organizations to re-assess how they use technology in their manufacturing operations, to determine how they can best modernize their systems in order to maintain a competitive edge.”

With this in mind, Area Development decided to devote a major portion of our Q2/2016 issue to an “Advanced Manufacturing Playbook.” Articles from experts at leading consulting firms including Deloitte, JLL, Hickey and Associates, and others — as well as executives at Michelin, Google, and the Department of Energy — are included. They discuss the meaning of innovation ecosystems, establishing a culture of innovation, taking a product from prototype to production, partnering with economic development agencies, using incentives for manufacturing innovation, and much more. It is hoped this “playbook” will help lead companies on their path toward growth.

Furthermore, those states that are exhibiting the know-how of helping businesses become innovative and grow are recognized in this issue with Area Development’s Gold and Silver Shovel awards. Twenty-two states are honored and “projects of the year” are cited in the automotive, e-commerce, and solar energy sectors as well as in small cities.

Also in this issue, Area Development presents its 100 Leading Locations for 2016 report. We’ve ranked 394 MSAs against 21 economic and workforce indicators to determine the leading cities. These MSAs have exhibited economic strength including year-over-year growth and longer-term (five-year/post-recessionary) growth, as well as the capacity to support business prosperity because of their prime workforces and other factors.

As the economy continues to improve, our “Advanced Manufacturing Playbook” and the special reports in this issue will guide your firm in its expansionary moves.

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