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Valley agencies up for $312,000 federal investment in 'Internet of Things'

“This opportunity to work with YBI could not have come at a better time as we see the collision of analytics and manufacturing as a key indicator of how we are going to bring back good paying jobs for talented young people,” said Rick Stockburger, president and CEO of BRITE Energy Innovators in Warren.
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WASHINGTON — The Youngstown Business Incubator and BRITE Energy Innovators in Warren could be on the receiving end of federal dollars to advance device connectivity in the Mahoning Valley.

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Howland, D-13th, on Tuesday announced a $312,744 investment in a new federal appropriations bill for the Valley Internet of Things Initiative, which is a partnership between the two agencies.

The “Internet of Things” is a term used to reference the worldwide network of internet-connected devices that speak to each other and share information, such as a smartphone-controlled light bulb.

The Valley’s initiative is expected to lead to new training and entrepreneurial programs and assist in “retraining and reshoring” manufacturing jobs locally and across the state, reads a Tuesday news release from Ryan’s office.

“I am proud of the work that is being done by both the YBI and BRITE Energy Innovators in working together to ensure that the Mahoning Valley is at the forefront of advanced manufacturing and ‘making things,’” Ryan is quoted in the release.

YBI CEO Barb Ewing said the incubator is “excited” to partner with BRITE on the initiative.

“The Internet of Things is literally the future of everything, from refrigerators to manufacturing lines. This funding will allow us to build new programming to support our local manufacturing base [and] figure out how to use the technology to make themselves more competitive,” Ewing is quoted in the release.

But more than three-quarters of local companies said they don’t use real-time data and more than half said they don’t have the expertise or training to adopt it, according to a recent Youngstown State University study cited by Ryan’s office.

“This opportunity to work with YBI could not have come at a better time as we see the collision of analytics and manufacturing as a key indicator of how we are going to bring back good paying jobs for talented young people,” said Rick Stockburger, BRITE president and CEO. “We are excited to leverage our IoT lab resources to create meaningful lines of support to companies ready to upgrade technology to make better operational decisions.”

The funding bill will now move to the full appropriations committee, consideration on the House floor and negotiation with the Senate, Ryan said.