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Puget Sound given preferential status for manufacturing grants

Aerospace manufacturers in the Puget Sound counties could get a boost from the federal government after being named one of 12 Manufacturing Communities by the Obama Administration.

The designation could give the Puget Sound and the others preferential status if they seek some of the $1.3 billion in federal grants set aside to increase long-term economic development and attract manufacturing companies from around the world.

Gov. Jay Inslee said the state has “the largest aerospace cluster in the world,” with more than 132,000 workers at more than 1,350 companies. It is constantly working to expand those numbers with training programs and tax incentives, and last year announced a state Aerospace Strategy as it sought and eventually won the Boeing 777X assembly line.

The Puget Sound and the other 11 communities around the country were selected because they have strong economic development plans and partnerships between the public and private sectors to carry out their plans.

Other communities selected from some 70 applicants are in southwest Alabama; Southern California; northwest Georgia; Chicago; south Kansas; Portland, Maine; southeastern Michigan; New York’s Finger Lakes; southwestern Ohio; the Tennessee Valley and Milwaukee.