State gives $6M to proposed robotics campus in York

Emily Thurlow//June 5, 2018

State gives $6M to proposed robotics campus in York

Emily Thurlow//June 5, 2018

Gov. Tom Wolf announced Monday morning that the city of York has been approved for a $6 million state grant to construct a manufacturing, technology, arts, history and education district.

The economic development project, known as The York Plan 2.0 Innovation District, is supported through the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program

The Innovation District is slated for the Northwest Triangle, an area that hugs the Codorus around Beaver and North streets and Pershing Avenue. It includes a 240,000-square-foot facility that will be home to American-made robotic device development, design workshops, space for offices and labs and more, said John McElligott, CEO of The Fortress Initiative and York Exponential, the group leading the effort of The York Plan 2.0.  

The name references the World War II-era York Plan, which mobilized the county’s manufacturers in support of the war effort. But now, instead of victory in war, the city is seeking an economic victory, supporters said.

“Instead of hoping someone will bring us what we don’t have we will, in the spirit of the first York Plan, do what we can with what we do have. We have a world-class manufacturing ecosystem,” McElligott said. “Working with machines and building incredible inventions are in our DNA and the technology of collaborative robots allows us to create the first workforce that can work alongside and in collaboration with a new generation of robots and technology. With the county and the city working together, I’m happy to say manufacturing is returning to downtown York.”

The Innovation District will include the manufacturing of collaborative robots or cobots, which are designed to work alongside human workers. Industrial robots, in contrast, are typically caged off to keep humans safe while performing tasks for humans.

John W. Lloyd, president and CEO of Mantec, said Mantec has worked closely with McElligott and has identified suppliers being used to furnish components for the robots being manufactured by York Exponential.

“Manufacturing is changing at a remarkable pace. It’s becoming much more technologically-driven in terms of robotics and automation and 3-D printing … it’s just changing the way products get manufactured and we want to be leaders of that effort here in the York community,” Lloyd said.

Efforts will be ramping up because, under the timeline of the state grant program, officials need to break ground in the next six months, McElligott said. The grant also requires the group to raise $3 million as all applicants in the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program must be able to demonstrate that they can raise at least 50 percent of the required non-state funds necessary to complete the project.  

Plans for the Innovation District were revealed last year. In an earlier interview interview with CPBJ, McElligott said the Innovation District where parts for robots would be manufactured, could create between 300 and 500 jobs in downtown York over the next three to five years.