NORTH CAROLINA — While North Carolina missed out on a Tech Hubs designation, the state has achieved two recipients of the Strategy Development Grant (SDG). Grant awards range from $400,000 to $500,000 each.

Charlotte Award

Charlotte has received the award for their Carolinas Innovation Center for Optics and Metrology (CICOM) Strategy Development Consortium. According to the press release, the group intends to develop a regional roadmap that can apply optics and metrology technologies to build a sustainable manufacturing framework.

UNC-Charlotte leads the consortium in partnership with the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance and the Centralina Regional Council. The university hosts both the Center for Optoelectronics and Optical Communications and the Center for Precision Metrology. [Metrology refers to the scientific study of measurement.] In addition, more than 25 industry groups, academic institutions, and workforce development organizations are included.

The application is intended to cover a total of 16 counties in North and South Carolina based around the Charlotte-Gastonia- Concord metro.

U.S. picks 31 tech hubs – North Carolina doesn’t make the list

Western NC Award

Also receiving an award was the Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton metro, covering Burke and Catawba counties. The Western North Carolina Industrialized Construction (NCIC) Strategy Development Consortium is an “industrialized construction” technology area, led by ADL Ventures. According to the announcement, NCIC will focus on affordable housing and sustainable construction solutions by developing construction strategies for offsite manufacturing of prefabricated components.

NC Senator Thom Tillis commented on both awards, saying in the NCIC press release, “North Carolina has a long history of leadership in the manufacturing industry, and this grant will be a game changer for the region and will help North Carolina continue to lead the way to making our nation more globally competitive.”

Grant Winners

The Tech Hubs, announced last week by the White House and the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA), were awarded to 31 locations across 32 states and Puerto Rico. The Tech Hubs are sponsored by the federal government’s CHIPS and Science Act, and the designated locations are now qualified to apply for additional funding – between $50-$75 million. Recipients of the Strategy and Development Grants are not eligible for the second round of funding.

Tech Hub and SDG Award locations

Tech Hub and SDG Award locations, graphic from US EDA.

The Strategy and Development Grants were awarded to 29 locations, 11 of which were also designated as Tech Hubs. These grants will send money to 13 states that did not receive Tech Hub designations, including North Carolina, California, Connecticut, and Michigan.

Both NC grant winners are now in a position to improve local coordination and development efforts with an eye toward a future attempt at achieving the Tech Hub designation. The EDA, which is administering the Tech Hub program and related grants has stated on the website that there are plans to offer additional Tech Hub competitions in the future, contingent on future funding from Congress.