The Youngstown Business Incubator and BRITE Energy Innovators have announced a partnership for a joint economic development initiative.

According to the release, the two entities secured the funding through the office of Congressman Tim Ryan for the initiative focused on the Industrial Internet of Things (I-IOT).

The $312,744 was provided through the House Appropriations Community Project Funding process.

YBI and BRITE say I-IOT is critical for Industry 4.0 or "smart" manufacturing and uses electronics and real-time analysis to improve operations by identifying potential problems or opportunities to reduce energy consumption.

This is a step in the right for the area. A 2020 survey found that over 75% of local companies do not utilize real-time data and over 50% said they did not have the expertise or training for adoption.

According to Ryan, this technology is fundamental to bringing manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. "For American manufacturing to compete globally against low-wage and low-cost manufacturing economies, we have to find ways to integrate advanced manufacturing technologies into our Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs). At the same time, technologies like these are going to help stimulate innovation in our region and position Ohio as an industry hub of the future."

YBI CEO Barb Ewing said the funding will be used for outreach to industry, training, implement demonstration projects and support innovation and entrepreneurship.