FALL RIVER, MASS. — Wednesday, the Baker-Polito Administration announced the first round of grants from the new Massachusetts Manufacturing Accelerate Program (MMAP), awarding $2,157,416 to 13 manufacturers from across the Commonwealth. The grants were announced by Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy and were managed by the Center for Advanced Manufacturing at MassTech Collaborative (CAM).
Launched in June 2021, MMAP aims to co-invest in small- to medium-sized manufacturers to better prepare their businesses to meet the demands of ‘Industry 4.0,’ the innovation-driven production methods powered by smart technologies such as data analytics, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, automation, and connected technologies to stay competitive.
“Massachusetts manufacturers continue to play an important role for our economy, both here in Massachusetts but also nationally, where they’re contributing to critical sectors such as energy, defense and healthcare,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Through these MMAP grants, we are bolstering 13 companies through infrastructure investments that will drive innovation, increase efficiency and boost job growth across the state.”
“The MMAP program highlights Massachusetts companies that represent the next wave of innovators, which are also using these gains to grow output and new jobs,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “For many of the workers, these new tools will move them away from repetitive tasks and allow them to focus on higher-value skills, driven by these technology investments.”
The MMAP grants will be used by the Mass. manufacturers to invest in infrastructure, funding projects that create partnerships between the companies and manufacturing-focused organizations in the state, including non-profits, R&D centers, and/or quasi-public agencies, to help them succeed. The program builds on the Commonwealth’s existing assets, including strong academic presence, a national leadership in R&D, the depth of the Massachusetts innovation ecosystem, and the Commonwealth’s long history of manufacturing strength.
The grants were announced by Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy during a grant announcement event hosted by Klear Vu Corp, a third-generation family-owned cushion manufacturer that’s been headquartered in Fall River for over 50 years.
“The MMAP grants are not only investing in technology, but also developing partnerships between our homegrown manufacturers and organizations that can help them innovate, grow, and find new business opportunities,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy. “For legacy companies like Klear Vu, we are helping ensure that their products continue to be made here in the Commonwealth for generations to come.”
MMAP grant applications were launched in June 2021, with applications due at the end of July. Over $10 million in requests were made to the Program by 51 manufacturers from across the state and after a thorough review process, 13 grantees were chosen. The selected firms represent a diverse cross-section of the state including the Berkshires, City of Boston, Cape Cod, Central Mass, MetroWest, the South Coast, and Western Massachusetts:
Ø Advance Welding/Kielb Welding Enterprises
Grant Amount: $250,000
Partner: Western MA Economic Development Council
Project: The award allows Advance Welding to purchase Electron Beam Welding and Laser Beam Weld chambers, power sources, pumps, and support equipment to meet the needs of large defense manufacturers. Bringing these processes under the umbrella of services will make it one of the most well rounded Fusion Welding companies in the U.S.
Ø Associated Environmental Systems (AES)
Grant Amount: $206,200
Project: Associated Environmental Systems manufactures environmental test chambers which allow companies to test their products under different environmental conditions, including various temperature and humidity conditions. These are used in many industries including medical devices, defense, automotive, electric vehicles, and battery development. This award will allow the company to purchase a Servo-Hydraulic CNC Press Brake and leverage advanced manufacturing technology to speed up the manufacturing process, driving increased throughput and driving new job growth, while also reducing floor space and allowing for expansion.
Grant Amount: $250,000
Project: AccuRounds has a need from a new customer in the robotics space, specifically in the growing warehouse automation vertical. The technical challenge for AccuRounds is how to manufacture drive shafts in volume at a competitive cost, allowing the production to remain in Massachusetts. AccuRounds will utilize robots to load/unload parts, an optimal way to maximize throughput and cost, while reducing or eliminating repetitive motion for workers. This will increase overall efficiency and allow the company to hire new workers.
Ø Atech Turbine
Grant Amount: $138,000
Project: Atech is a minority-owned, female-run small business focused on the overhaul and repair of aircraft parts. Through the new capital equipment, including a coordinate measuring machine, metallographic cut-off saw, heat treating cycling refrigerator dryer, and vacuum furnace, will provide them the ability to launch new products using advance manufacturing techniques for the battery, aerospace, and defense industries.
Ø Boulevard Machine
Grant Amount: $95,838
Partner: MassHire Workforce Board Hamden County
Project: Boulevard Machine & Gear is a woman-owned & certified precision machining facility that offers production, complex precision machining for Tier 1 aerospace, defense, space and other technical markets. Boulevard will purchase a Haas VF5-SS to meet new demand from the space sector, which will allow the firm to save on tooling and increase speeds, making them more competitive in the market. It will allow the company to reduce multiple tasks down to a single operation.
Ø Guardair Corp
Grant Amount: $145,200
Project: Guardair Corporation is a leading manufacturer of pneumatic tools and accessories used for industrial cleaning. Pneumatic (compressed air powered) vacuums have been around for many years and over a year of R&D efforts, Guardair has produced a vacuum generating head incorporating a unique, proprietary, multistage, multi-venturi design that generates superior vacuum flow and head but consumes up to 70% less compressed air compared to current designs. The MMAP grant will fund the purchase of molds, fixtures, and tooling critical to minimize component costs for the production of this new product.
Ø Hi-Tech Mold & Tool
Grant Amount: $75,000
Partner(s): Berkshire Innovation Center & MassMEP
Project: Hi-Tech Mold & Tool is a contract manufacturer in the aerospace, defense, medical, and industrial industries. With this award, Hi-Tech will purchase a Haas CNC 4-axis milling machine to support capacity growth in the aerospace and defense business lines. They have secured new contracts from Pratt Whitney and L3 Harris that will require this new added capacity and allow for new hiring to staff the equipment.
Ø International Fabric Machine
Grant Amount: $250,000
Project: International Fabric Machines Inc. (IFM) is an MIT spin-off focused on designing and creating revolutionary fiber and fabric products based on its proprietary functional fiber technology. Headquartered at MassRobotics in Boston, IFM is focusing on scaled manufacturing of advanced fiber and products targeting Department of Defense and consumer markets such as logistics, robotics, healthcare, performance analytics, and defense. The company is currently scaling two enabling fiber technologies: a chip-in-fiber technology, and a sensitive fiber and fabric acoustic microphone and vibrometer for remote health monitoring for susceptible populations. IFM’s new equipment will be used to set up an initial manufacturing facility to support the market introduction of its first mass market product in 2021.
Grant Amount: $197,078
Project: Jetcool designs and manufactures cooling solutions for advanced semiconductors in defense, computing, and data centers. The company’s modules integrate in precision assemblies to perfectly match the geometrical layouts of the semiconductors they cool, extracting heat right where it is generated within the electronic device. New equipment will allow JetCool to precision cut materials that will be used in final product assemblies, across a variety of source materials that can be used for applications from defense to computing.
Ø Klear Vu Corp
Grant Amount: $87,500
Location: Fall River
Project: Klear Vu’s signature product is a patented non-slip cushion. They have experienced rapid eCommerce growth with online sales nearly doubling over the past two years. Recently, Klear Vu expanded its product line to include outdoor cushions, requiring the purchase of specialized capital equipment, specifically the purchase of a fully automated sewing line which includes a robotic clamp, computerized control system, two sewing heads, and a 0.8-meter-wide conveyor. The benefits of having this new equipment include new skilled positions, access to new markets, quality improvements, and safety.
Ø Marzilli Machine Co., Inc.
Grant Amount: $250,000
Location: Fall River
Project: Marzilli Machine Co. is a precision CNC components manufacturer serving the aerospace, defense, medical, and firearms markets. The new grant-supported equipment will help Marzilli overcome capacity and lead time challenges by expanding their 5th axis capabilities, allowing them to meet challenges from existing and new customers.
Ø North Easton Machine
Grant Amount: $147,500
Partner: MassHire Greater Brockton
Location: North Easton, MA
Project: North Easton Machine Company, Inc. (NEM) is a 57-year-old advanced manufacturer that contracts with a diverse customer base, producing custom-machined components for engineers and buyers in the defense, semiconductor, medical device, robotics, photonics, and lithium-based battery industries. The grant will help replace aging equipment and increase throughput by reducing overall cycle time by adding bar feed automation. The increased machine technology will support the manufacturing of more complex parts, allowing NEM to quote on new work currently outside its machine capabilities. It will also make NEM more competitive on price and lead times, potentially expanding their semi-conductor and photonics market share.
Ø Olsen Marine
Grant Amount: $65,000
Location: East Dennis
Project: Olsen Marine, Inc. is a small women-owned custom boat building and repair company that operates The Duck Boat Co. The company’s capital equipment purchase includes converting workspace and additional equipment for increased production, including an automated fiberglass fabric cutter. This more streamlined production allows Olsen to not only meet the current demand for its boats, but also pursue expansion into other markets for future products and capabilities. Through these improvements, Olsen can improve their workspace and production capabilities, plus attract new employees and double its workforce.
“These grantees highlight that our manufacturing prowess isn’t limited to one region of our state or to one sector, but contains a variety of companies to meet the broad demands of OEMs,” said Christine Nolan, Director of the Center for Advanced Manufacturing at MassTech. “The MMAP firms represent a mix of legacy manufacturers and startups. No matter how old your company is, the Commonwealth offers an array of resources to help manufacturers grow, including capital investments like MMAP, but also initiatives that help companies with workforce development, financing, site selection, and supply chain needs.”
“It’s an honor to be awarded the MMAP grant,” said Ben Cooper, President of Klear Vu. “This grant will enable us to invest in automation technology that will help us continue to grow while remaining cost competitive.”
“Fall River has a rich industrial history and these grants to KlearVu and Marz Machine ensure that we can continue to be a statewide leader in manufacturing,” said Fall River Mayor Paul Coogan. “I am thankful to the Commonwealth, Secretary Kennealy and the Center for Advanced Manufacturing for investing in these two exemplary manufacturers- their success is crucial to job growth and future development in Fall River.”
“Our manufacturing industry is in the midst of a renaissance with new opportunities and technologies to meet the demands of the 21st century,” said Senator Eric P. Lesser, Chair of the Manufacturing Caucus. “Thanks to programs like the Massachusetts Manufacturing Accelerate Program, we can help grow our manufacturing clusters in Western Mass and around the Commonwealth that create jobs, strengthen our supply chain, and make a lasting mark on cities like Chicopee and Springfield.”
“Small and medium-sized manufacturers are essential to the vitality of Massachusetts’ economy,” said Julian Cyr (D – Truro). “I am thrilled that Olsen Marine in East Dennis has been awarded $65,000 from the Massachusetts Manufacturing Accelerate Program. These funds will be utilized by this local Cape businesses to maintain a competitive edge in the yacht and boat-making industry with the aid of new technologies and processes.”
“Fostering innovation and growth for manufacturers in the Commonwealth is essential as we continue to recover from the economic impacts of the pandemic,” said Senator Michael Moore (D-Millbury). “We continue to be impacted by issues with global supply chains, making support of our local and statewide manufacturing industry essential. I would like to thank the Massachusetts Manufacturing Accelerate Program for their work on this issue and for awarding funding to Atech Turbine Components in Auburn.”
“The collaborative work between HiTech Mold, The Berkshire Innovation Center and MassMEP is a perfect example of entities coming together as a system to solve workforce challenges,” said State Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier. “This will result in good paying jobs and stronger companies for the people in the Berkshires.”