For The Record

Federal grants and awards reinforce the efforts of CIRAS to achieve its goal to “enhance the performance of industry through applied research, education, and technical assistance.” Here’s a list of some recent awards and how they’re being used to help CIRAS in its work with Iowa companies.

More than $745,000 has been received from the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) renewing CIRAS as Iowa’s Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC). The money is matched with CIRAS funds to provide more than $1.2 million of one-to-one counseling to Iowa businesses that want to compete for government contracts. The funds also enable PTAC to host training, educational, and networking sessions to help companies build relationships with agencies and prime contractors.

The PTAC program is transitioning from the DLA to the Department of Defense Small Business Programs, a move that will not impact current funding.

CIRAS has received its annual award from the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP). As part of a long-term agreement, $2.2 million of federal money is matched with CIRAS funds to create an MEP program budget of $4.4 million. CIRAS also won a competitive award in the amount of $920,000 to improve diversity in manufacturing by creating a structure for an internship program that will build a pipeline of future employees for MEP centers and small- to medium-sized manufacturers.

Last year, CIRAS received $1.4 million through the Iowa Legislature’s Economic Development Appropriations Bill to fund our Technology Assistance Program (TAP), which works with businesses to lessen the risk of adopting new technologies. Support includes educational events, connections with Iowa State faculty and industry leaders, workshops, and direct one-on-one project assistance. Funding is also used to support the Digital Manufacturing (Industry 4.0) Lab to showcase various technologies to companies.

The Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) awarded CIRAS $133,00 to help prepare Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBEs) compete for highway construction projects and other DOT-funded work.

The grant dovetails with government contracting services available through PTAC. The DBE Support Services program can assist DBEs with all aspects of their business such as marketing, website development, financial accounting processes, estimating, and bidding to name a few. The PTAC program will supplement those efforts by assisting the DBEs with understanding the entire government procurement process and helping them pursue other government work aside from the DOT.

Finally, CIRAS has received another $138,000 installment of a grant from the federal Economic Development Administration (EDA) to help rural communities and businesses explore new approaches to systemic workforce shortages. This innovative approach to workforce planning, known as the Iowa Workforce Innovation Network, is matched with CIRAS funds and other grants for a program budget of $276,000. Additionally, the CARES Act is providing another $150,000 for workforce-related programs to assist with pandemic recovery.