N.M. Delegation Pushing for Advanced Photonics Manufacturing Consortium to be Designated as a ‘Manufacturing Community’

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and U.S. Reps. Steve Pearce, Ben Ray Luján and Michelle Lujan Grisham are advocating for New Mexico Advanced Photonics Manufacturing Consortium in Albuquerque to be recognized by the federal government as a “Manufacturing Community,” a designation that could make it eligible for up to $1.3 billion in future federal investment to further economic development strategies.

The delegation together wrote a letter in support of an application by the consortium, a collaboration of national laboratories, private industry, universities, community colleges, local governments and nonprofit organizations. The delegation and the members of the public-private partnership say New Mexico’s extensive expertise make it a natural location for additional national investment in research and manufacturing of optics and photonics technologies, which are used in robotics, medical imaging, next-generation displays, defense, biometric security and many other fields.

“Optics and photonics technology represents a field of science and engineering full of pathways for commercial, industrial and military applications,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter to the Economic Development Administration’s Interagency Review Panel. “Each of these applications provides an opportunity to improve our national security and competitive advantage in the global market through innovative manufacturing technologies.”

The administration’s Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership will select up to 12 “Manufacturing Communities,” giving them elevated consideration for up to $1.3 billion as well as assistance with workforce and training, advanced research, infrastructure and site development, supply chain support, export promotion and capital access.

The goal of the initiative is to encourage communities to devise comprehensive economic development strategies that strengthen their competitive edge in attracting global manufacturers and their supply chains.

Not only is New Mexico a leader in optics and photonics capabilities, the delegation and advocates say, optics and photonics are increasingly critical across a broad spectrum of commercial and national defense industries. Strengthening New Mexico’s capabilities would help ensure the United States continues to lead the world in optics and photonics development and manufacturing.

“Optics and photonics address and solve many of the challenges of the modern worlds, and we want those solutions to be researched, developed and manufactured in the United States,” the delegation wrote.

“We are in strong support of this broad collaborative effort, and request that you give the New Mexico Advanced Photonics Manufacturing Consortium’s submission full and fair consideration,” the letter concludes.