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    Walmart Funds Manufacturing Innovation

    U.S. Conference of Mayors joins mega-retailer in effort

    Textile manufacturing plant

    Walmart, the Walmart Foundation and the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) have revealed the first grant recipients of the Walmart U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund’s $10 million commitment at the 2nd U.S. Manufacturing Summit in Denver. The Aug. 14-15 event unites manufacturers, suppliers, governors and mayors from 42 states.

    Seven research and development institutions received a total of $4 million in grants to create processes, ideas and jobs to help build the U.S. manufacturing sector. The fund, which focuses on the development of domestic manufacturing with the specific aim of furthering the production or assembly of consumer products in the United States, will award a total of $10 million in grants over the next five years.

    "Innovation is part of the heart and soul of Walmart," noted Michelle Gloeckler, executive president of consumables and U.S. manufacturing at Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart. "By investing in American ingenuity originating everywhere, from the research lab to the assembly line, we can transform our approach to manufacturing to be more cost-effective and efficient. We can bring more jobs and more production back into American communities."

    The chosen grant recipients address two crucial areas: Reducing the cost of textiles manufacturing, including home textiles and apparel, in the United States by dealing with obstacles throughout production, and improving common manufacturing processes for many types of consumer products.

    "The projects recognized today are some of the best ways we've seen to bring American manufacturing into the Cities 3.0 era, helping to create hubs of innovation, entrepreneurship, and technology," said Kevin Johnson, president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, which, among other things, provides a forum in which mayors can exchange ideas and information. Johnson went on to explain that "Cities 3.0 is the next era of the American city, where cities are becoming the laboratories and incubators of change by supporting projects like the ones recognized" by the grants.

    The 2014 Walmart U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund grant winners are as follows:

    • Georgia Tech Research Corp., for innovation of thread-count-based fabric motion control,
    • Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI), to advance and accelerate the industrial implementation of metal 3-D printing for the manufacturing of plastic injection tooling
    • North Carolina State University College of Textiles, to work on problems in the manufacture of furniture cushions by implementing new technologies
    • Oregon State University, to develop two alternative mold-fabricating approaches
    • Texas Tech University, to support collaborative research on cotton breeding and biotechnology, cotton production, and various aspects of textile manufacturing, dyeing efficiency and specialty finishes
    • University of Texas at Arlington, to develop a manufacturing system that will autonomously prepare small motor subsystems and assemble the motor components
    • University of Georgia Research Foundation to develop an approach to fabric dyeing that will greatly reduce, and perhaps eliminate, the need for water in dyeing certain materials

    In January 2013, Walmart pledged to purchase an additional $250 billion in products supporting American manufacturing and American jobs by 2023. Through initiatives such as this and the grants program, the mega-retailer hopes to give U.S. shoppers greater access to American-made products and create more jobs across the country.

    Walmart operates almost 11,000 stores under 71 banners in 27 countries, and e-commerce websites in 10 countries.

     

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