The DoD doesn’t plan to just flyover the Midwest states – the Defense Innovation Unit is adding a Chicago office. The Chicago office aims to identify new solutions, companies, and talent across the Midwest to solve pressing national security challenges and offer companies a faster path to DoD contracts. DIU celebrated this announcement in Chicago today with Senators Durbin and Duckworth, Governor Pritzker, Mayor Lightfoot and 80 other local military, academic and industry leaders.

The DIU office will be co-located at the Discovery Partners Institute (DPI) and serve as the focal point for DoD engagement with Midwest entrepreneurs and innovators. DIU will share the space with representatives from the National Security Innovation Network, the Army’s 75th Innovation Command, the Army Research Laboratory, members of the Illinois National Guard, and other DoD innovation groups.

“American innovators are crucial to increasing the strength and resiliency of our supply lines and leveraging the creativity and productivity of the American workforce,” said Dr. Kathleen Hicks, Deputy Secretary of Defense. “Today’s expansion of DIU will help to tap into talent and technology in the Midwest, and add a diverse resource to our innovation and modernization capabilities base.”

Commercial technology is increasingly important in equipping our military with the best technology in areas like artificial intelligence, autonomy, cyber, energy and space. Technology from commercial vendors can often scale in months—shaving many years off of the defense acquisition cycle. For example, five years ago, DIU began working with commercial vendors of a new technology—synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellites—which can see through clouds and at night. This new capability is providing unclassified, shareable information on what is happening in Ukraine and has proven key to the country’s defense.

Chicago will be the fifth DIU office located in technology ecosystems that include– Mountain View, CA; Boston, MA; Austin, TX; and Washington, DC. Chicago is part of DIU’s broader regional strategy to extend DoD’s reach as a customer and economic development partner to companies, labs, accelerators, academia, and investors across the country. In turn, DoD aims to discover emerging technology solutions faster, speed their adoption, and expand the base of suppliers supporting our military.

“On behalf of Chicago’s business community, we welcome the Department of Defense,” said Michael Fassnacht, President & CEO, World Business Chicago, Chief Marketing Officer, City of Chicago. “In opening your Midwest regional office in Chicago, you can easily tap into our global reach and influence, as well, the city’s network of diverse, innovative, and forward-thinking companies that are developing, and incubating, the solutions needed to support our nation’s defense today and in the future.”

Since launching the Commercial Solutions Opening in 2016, DIU has made prototype awards to more than 263 companies across 30 states, Washington, DC, and 9 countries. DIU has introduced more than 100 new companies to the DoD and transitioned 43 commercial technologies to DoD partners. To reach companies and talent across the 12 states that makeup DIU’s Midwest region, DIU will leverage a full- and part-time reservist team as well as government partners.

“DIU is excited to add Chicago to deepen the DoD’s reach to identify new solutions, companies, and talent to solve our national security challenges,” said Michael Brown, DIU director. “Leveraging the innovation of entrepreneurs across the Midwest will enable DIU to provide new capabilities to our Service members.”

In addition to the morning’s in-person event hosted at local manufacturing innovation partner MxD, DIU is hosting a virtual Regional Roadshow the afternoon of April 21st for companies and organizations across the Midwest who may be interested in doing business with the DoD. This conversation will provide a short overview about DIU and NSIN, our focus areas, processes and how we work to lower the barriers to entry to the DoD.

Layoffs Impacting the Cleared Industry

Waupaca Foundry

Waupaca Foundry will idle melt, molding and core room production and continue iron casting processing operations at its Etowah, Tennessee facility. Parts will transfer to Hitachi Metals, Ltd. operations, as well as to Waupaca Foundry plants located in Marinette, Wisconsin and Tell City, Indiana. The production shift aligns manufacturing efficiencies with market demand.

“Our responsibility to our customers and our team members rests on our long-term sustainability,” said Waupaca Foundry President, COO and CEO Mike Nikolai.  “We will continue to supply the high quality cast and machined components and service that Waupaca is known for in the market.”

Waupaca Foundry is the leading supplier of cast and machined iron components for automotive, off-highway, commercial vehicle, and other industrial markets. Upon the production shift, Waupaca will operate five iron foundries with 1.4 million tons of capacity, as well as machining and casting finishing operations in the United States. The supplier has operated the ductile iron foundry in Etowah, Tennessee since 2001.

Hiring impacting the Cleared Industry

Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin is opening a new facility that expands its Johnstown, PA, operations. The Johnstown business expects to hire more than 80 mechanics and technicians in the next year to support component production for the newest F-16s being manufactured in Greenville, South Carolina.

In conjunction, Lockheed Martin is celebrating 25 years in Pinellas Park, Florida, and its ongoing commitment to growing job opportunities in Florida – to include at least 50 new jobs over the next two years.

“At Lockheed Martin, we’re driven by a sense of purpose and passion to shape the future and solve the world’s most difficult challenges,” said Nick Drazic, Operations vice president for Lockheed Martin Aeronautics. “We bring that same passion and purpose to our communities, where our employees play an active role in strengthening the quality of life where we live and work.”

The Johnstown facility opened in 1987 and produces components for the C-130A-J Super Hercules, F-35 Lightning II and F-16 Falcon aircraft. The site also supports sustainment efforts for the C-130A-J, LM-100J, F-16, F-22 Raptor, P-3 Orion and C-5 Galaxy aircraft programs.

“We are proud to bring the new F-16 manufacturing work to our Johnstown site and contribute to the creation of more jobs in the area,” Wayne Davis, Lockheed Martin Johnstown general  manager, said. “The selection of Johnstown for this work is a reflection of the highly skilled workforce in the area and a testament to the team’s focus on delivering for our customers.”

The F-16 parts that will now be produced in Johnstown include the aft engine access covers, engine access doors, F-1 fuel tank and inlet. Upon completion in Johnstown, the parts will be shipped to Greenville, South Carolina, for final assembly and integration into the F-16s on the production line. This is in addition to the F-16 component and sub-assembly work already performed at the site today.

Pinellas Park: Over the past 25 years, the Pinellas Park facility has become a Canopy Center of Excellence, building both production and sustainment canopies for F-35 and F-16 aircraft. They also work on parts and components for the F-35, F-16 and C-130J. The team has driven innovation, efficiency, and focus, while setting industry benchmarks in the manufacturing process by reducing build times by 50%.

“It truly is an exciting time to be at Pinellas Park,” said Lindsay Muth, Lockheed Martin Pinellas Park general manager. “We have a world-class team that produces world-class results; and that shows through our products and our culture. We’re proud to celebrate 25 years in Pinellas Park and look forward to continuously growing employment opportunities and partnering with our local community.”

Cleared Employer at Work: CISA

Women have a small representation in cybersecurity, and yet they remain critical to the mission – CISA knows this and is looking to bring in people with the unique backgrounds and perspectives that represent our Nation. CISA has career pathways for people of all backgrounds, with the goal of creating a more balanced and inclusive workplace culture. Join the CISA workforce!

Opportunity to Watch

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Jillian Hamilton has worked in a variety of Program Management roles for multiple Federal Government contractors. She has helped manage projects in training and IT. She received her Bachelors degree in Business with an emphasis in Marketing from Penn State University and her MBA from the University of Phoenix.