In 2018, the City of Lynchburg launched the Blueprint for Opportunity, a five-year strategic action plan for economic development and tourism. The plan is built on five key priorities: growing local businesses, engaging anchor institutions, filling workforce pipelines, enhancing quality of place, and communicating Lynchburg’s story to the world.
The Blueprint identifies five target industry clusters that the City will work to grow over the next five years including advanced manufacturing and nuclear technology. On the most basic level, industry clusters promote two functions: collaboration and competition. Due to their shared resources and markets, businesses in the same industry cluster can collaborate to solve issues within their own industry or throughout the broader community, including infrastructure needs and regulations such as incentives or zoning. Industry clusters also help to distinguish a community from nearby areas, define its role in the regional or national landscape, and encourage the development of new business opportunities. At the same time, these clusters foster competition among related businesses, thereby promoting innovation.
As the City’s workforce becomes more creative, legacy manufacturing industries can use innovation to adapt to global economic shifts. By integrating technology into its existing businesses, Lynchburg’s manufacturing cluster may attract a more skilled workforce, allowing manufacturing to remain an essential component of the City’s industrial fabric. With a sustained focus on education and skills training, Lynchburg’s citizens will gain both traditional manufacturing skills and newer, innovative technological skills to fill existing and future jobs.
For the past several years, the Office of Economic Development & Tourism has partnered with the Campbell County Office of Economic Development to engage EWI, an advanced engineering service provider with applied research and development (R&D) capabilities, to promote business expansion and innovation in the City of Lynchburg and Campbell County. Now, EWI is exploring how to best serve regional manufacturers, which may include locating a new applied R&D facility here in Lynchburg. As we look forward to the future of manufacturing, our relationship with EWI will allow us to advance the City’s competitive advantage in advanced manufacturing and engineering and support the growth of traded products and technologies.
What Is EWI?
EWI is a premier nonprofit engineering and technology company that was founded in Columbus, OH, in 1984. For 35 years, it has partnered with a wide variety of businesses across the country that need to enhance and reinvigorate productivity and production, offering engineering and research expertise in order to accelerate progress. In a world in which rapidly evolving technologies generate novel product fabrication techniques, EWI helps manufacturers overcome technical barriers and finds advanced solutions to make their products more quickly and efficiently. EWI identifies needs, develops solutions, and facilitates implementation to enable companies to innovate and flourish in a competitive global marketplace.
EWI has practical experience in many industries including aerospace, transportation, defense, heavy manufacturing, medical devices, packaging, consumer products and electronics, oil, advanced energy and more. With expertise across many technical capability areas – materials processing, welding, joining, metal forming, additive manufacturing, automation, structural integrity, testing, and nondestructive inspection -- EWI specialists are able to help their clients achieve the breakthroughs required to achieve production efficiencies and get ahead of the competition. By approaching challenges through a process development focus and guiding clients from start to finish, EWI provides companies with the full range of engineering support they need to innovate and advance.
EWI and Lynchburg
EWI is currently in the process of determining the feasibility of Lynchburg as a location to expand its base of operations. In partnership with the Office of Economic Development & Tourism and Campbell County Office of Economic Development, EWI is gathering resources and reliable contacts among Lynchburg’s advanced manufacturing and nuclear energy stakeholders. EWI has worked with many Lynchburg companies over the years, and it takes a particular interest in engineering firms like BWXT, a company that specializes in researching and developing innovative nuclear power products and solutions.
EWI is also actively engaging with various other Lynchburg companies to determine their interest in partnering for business and economic development. Together with local business and community leaders, the EWI team is creating a plan that focuses on financial sustainability and determining economic risk and reward factors. This cooperative approach is designed to integrate with and enhance current capabilities and resources rather than competing with existing ones.
EWI is known across the country for inspiring and equipping businesses to embrace innovation to improve product and service delivery. We know that the competitive advantage for the City of Lynchburg is our innovative economy and the people that drive it, with a diversity of skills, ideas and talents. In order for Lynchburg to be the best small city in America, partnerships with organizations like EWI are critical to support the growth of the manufacturing and engineering sectors that drive our economy.