WIRE-Net (the Westside Industrial Retention and Expansion Network) was formed in 1988 in Cleveland with the mission of strengthening manufacturing to create healthy communities and to fuel economic growth. Recognizing the vital need to address the impact of plant closings and relocations on struggling manufacturing-dependent cities, WIRE-Net supports more than 200 parts and components manufacturers, with a specialization in the wind industry, and helps link these businesses to valuable community resources, enabling them to embrace innovation to invest in their employees, spur local economic vitality, and improve competitiveness. WIRE-Net also concentrates on the important task of organizing the voice of industry stakeholders, namely leaders of small/medium-sized, privately held (many are family owned) firms that have not traditionally been represented in state and federal public policy discussions.
Focusing on manufacturing loss while simultaneously building on the opportunities presented by the growing green economy, WIRE-Net began building a comprehensive economic development approach that would help retain and grow manufacturers in the northeast Ohio area. Since 2007, its efforts to retrofit the former auto-parts manufacturers to become parts suppliers for America's emerging Wind Industry have been formidable, saving and bringing hundreds of jobs to the industrial Midwest while at the same time, helping to build a supply chain for wind energy in the US. Now, with an extended mission that goes beyond the Cleveland area, WIRE-Net is poised to expand on a state and national scale.
With joint-support from the Surdna Foundation's Strong Local Economies and Sustainable Environments programs, WIRE-Net's Wind Industry Expansion and Policy Project will tackle three major efforts. First, the organization will help US-based manufacturers stabilize and grow by connecting them to opportunities in the installation, maintenance and logistics segments of the wind industry. Secondly, WIRE-Net will identify and work to strengthen key local and federal policy opportunities and levers to grow the nation's wind industry. And finally, the organization also will build a network of manufacturing leaders and champions that can educate policymakers and elected officials about key policies, making the case that expanding US-based manufacturing is vital to the nation's energy-security and economic competitiveness.