AeroHub: A Plan for Workforce Development, Advanced Manufacturing and Innovation in Southwest Ohio

Business XpansionJournal

Sep 27, 2019

AeroHub is a planned workforce development, advanced manufacturing and innovation campus located in Greater Cincinnati on 190 contiguous acres.

This advanced manufacturing ecosystem will strategically co-locate highly skilled designers, engineers, manufacturers, researchers and educators enabling integrated design thinking, shared R&D capabilities and access to advanced digital manufacturing systems.

The Village of Evendale partnered with several consultants including Red Tiger LLC, Tree Ridge Capital, emersion DESIGN and PEDCO E&A Services to bring the AeroHub vision to life in the master plan. The vision for AeroHub was complicated to articulate on paper. “It was a challenging task to take all the diverse threads and provide a functioning, aesthetic master plan that allowed for growth and flexibility, but still allowed decisions to be made from it,” said Richard Finan, Mayor of Evendale.

Situated near the World Headquarters of GE Aviation and GE Additive, AeroHub will be a nexus of economic, physical and networking assets that foster new ideas and their transformation into advanced manufacturing enterprises. The epicenter of AeroHub will include a planned advanced manufacturing innovation center featuring a working showroom equipped with the latest manufacturing technology. TechSolve, a leader in manufacturing and technology solutions, will manage the innovation center in partnership with Cincinnati State Workforce Development, Butler Tech, Princeton School District and other educational institutions throughout the region. Partnering with world class manufacturers, the center will be available for product research, testing, prototyping and up skilling and training of current and future employees.

Pedestrian link to innovation center, education hub, and natural habitat

Advanced manufacturing is dramatically transforming the way we do business, the way we live, and is an economic engine that’s growing daily. David Linger, CEO of TechSolve, describes it this way; “We are in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0 as many refer to it today. Industry 4.0 fosters a “smart factory” approach. The growth of automation and data exchange supported by cyber-physical systems, the Internet of things, cloud computing and cognitive computing are all changing the future of manufacturing. AeroHub embodies Industry 4.0 and the workforce development required to drive it.”

Southwest Ohio is already a leader in aviation. AeroHub is located in the heart of the federally designated Southwest Ohio Aerospace Region with immediate access to approximately 50,000 engineers and scientists within a 50-mile radius. But it also has the opportunity to be a world class center for the additive manufacturing industry. Additive manufacturing is rapidly changing how things are being manufactured. It’s comprised of technologies that build 3D objects by adding layer-upon-layer of materials, such as plastics and metals. GE is the world’s leader in this emerging technology for aviation. With GE as the “best in class” catalyst, AeroHub has the potential to be the anchor that makes Southwest Ohio a “world leader” in this industry.

These emerging industries are evolving so rapidly that the skills gap between available technical workers and industry demand continues to widen. Cincinnati State created a new collaboration, the AeroHub Technical Advisory Committee, dedicated to developing the most advanced available training for Additive Manufacturing, and focused on making this region a leader in this technology.

One of the greatest differentiators for AeroHub is the access to workforce development from multiple sources. Most innovation districts are singular university driven. AeroHub incorporates multiple universities, career centers and high schools to provide layers of workforce development to respond to current and future employment needs. Princeton High School is located on the perimeter of AeroHub and serves as the Northern entryway to the campus.

“We can no longer operate in educational silos and expect to prepare students for ever changing jobs,” said Tom Burton, Superintendent of Princeton City Schools. “We must work in partnership with career and technical centers, colleges, businesses and municipalities to ensure our students are ready. The future is truly ours to develop.”

Jon Graft, Superintendent and CEO of Butler Tech agrees. “We must take it upon ourselves to be catalysts for the education revolution. Business and education previously operated in silos,” said Graft. “We defined the assembly line of education from kindergarten through college. “We must now adapt quickly to develop a workforce for emerging industries. AeroHub offers that opportunity with access to the latest manufacturing technology so we can mobilize students for a workforce today that is also sustainable in the future.”

Yet, there’s even more to AeroHub than workforce development, innovation and advanced manufacturing. AeroHub is also a Planned Unit Development (“PUD”). Called an Innovation District PUD, Evendale’s zoning allows for a mix of synergistic uses including light industrial (Advanced Manufacturing and R&D), and occupancies compatible with development adjacent to residential (education/training centers, professional offices, etc.). Parks and green belts contribute buffering to adjacent properties and offer additional amenities to AeroHub and its neighbors.

“Needs and wants are evolving. Walkability, entertainment and sustainability are priorities for this generation of workers,” said Steve Kimball, principal at emersion DESIGN who developed the master plan. AeroHub has the flexibility to evolve and respond. It enables interaction between its various uses to create a sustainable advanced manufacturing eco-system where people can live, work and play.

Activity at AeroHub is well underway in the first phase, with construction for its first tenant beginning this spring. Others are quickly following. “AeroHub is the new standard for high-tech commercial/industrial campuses” concluded Mayor Finan. “We appreciate everyone’s hard work on bringing our concept to reality. Our hopes are that AeroHub is a regional asset with national recognition and international participation”