The Institute for Research on Labor, Employment, and the Economy (IRLEE) administers and evaluates wide-ranging program interventions for manufacturing companies and communities experiencing economic distress, and funds much of its activity through grants from the U.S. Economic Development Administration and the State of Michigan. Currently, IRLEE provides technical assistance to over 200 manufacturing firms (large and small) across the Midwest, and helps other clients with technology adoption, identifying adjacent markets, and business incubation.
IRLEE is currently the lead institution on a new Department of Defense initiative, the Defense Manufacturing Assistance Program (DMAP), which uses the proven methodologies from its business intervention programs to assist manufacturing companies and communities in Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana (in partnership with Ohio State and Purdue Universities) impacted by defense spending cuts.
IRLEE has also worked with the U.S. Department of Commerce to create the National Catalog of Excess Manufacturing Capacity (NEXCAP), which has identified and documented millions of square feet of dormant manufacturing space across the country and created a web portal to enable searching and matching of company needs with facilities.
The Center for Business Acceleration and Incubation Studies (CBAIS) has extensive experience in the areas of business incubation, acceleration, innovation and technology commercialization. It has produced two national studies of business incubation for the U.S. Department of Commerce—the most recent of which addressed incubation best practices and also included a web-based, interactive practitioner self-evaluation tool that has been employed in the business incubation sector nationally and internationally.
IRLEE developed the “Surviving to Thriving” program, which for five years worked to successfully diversify manufacturers in the automotive sector. Its state-funded programs to assist manufacturing businesses include the Technology and Commercialization Assistance (TCA) Program, which proactively identifies the capabilities and initiatives of emerging or established companies and matches them with technology at Michigan universities, and the First Customer Program (FCP), which supports emergent firms with preparation for and introduction to initial clients.