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Allegheny College


Sustainable Manufacturing Initiative (SMI)

SMI in ACTION: Challenges to a Tool City

Challenges to a Tool CityDr. Stephen Onyeiwu, Assistant Professor of Economics and Project Director of CEED's Sustainable Manufacturing Initiative, with student interns Katie Wheeler and Lauren Destefano, surveyed 50 local tool and die companies in an effort to find out why the shops had closed. Read more about the project.

Manufacturing is the bedrock of Northwestern Pennsylvania, absorbing about 22% of the region's workforce and contributing substantially to its gross domestic output.


A major goal of the SMI is to foster a better understanding of the nature of the challenges faced by the region's manufacturers, and explore effective ways for addressing those challenges. Through faculty-student projects, internships, workshops, and one-on-one meetings with manufacturers, the project seeks to enhance the capacity of the region's manufacturing sector to meet the challenges posed by the new global economy.

Manufacturing plays a bigger role in the region's economy than it does statewide and nationally. In recent times, however, manufacturing in the region has faced a plethora of challenges, notable of which are the following:

  • Competitive pressures from foreign manufacturers, particularly China, Mexico, and Canada
  • Escalating energy and healthcare costs
  • Shortages of skilled labor force
  • Rapid and unexpected changes in the regulatory environment


To accomplish its goals, SMI undertakes the following activities:

  • Faculty/student summer projects that focus on problems encountered by manufacturers in the region
  • Workshops, seminars, and roundtables
  • Database of manufacturing-related activities
  • Provision of student interns for local manufacturers
  • Publication of reports, articles, and monographs


  1. "Identifying and Leveraging Growth Drivers in the Tooling and Machining Industry in Crawford and Erie Counties of Pennsylvania." September 2009. Online version (pdf format)
  2. "Creative Destruction or Organizational Ineptitude: Explaining the Decline in the US Machine Tool Industry." June 2005. Online version (pdf format)
  3. "Firm Closures in the Tool and Die Industry in Crawford County of Northwest PA," August 2004. Online version (pdf format)
  4. "The Tool and Die Industry in the French Creek Watershed," October 2003.


Project Director: Stephen Z. Onyeiwu, PhD
Associate Professor of Economics

Allegheny College
Meadville, PA 16335
(814) 332-3338

Allegheny College's  
Center for Economic and Environmental Development  

Last update: 1 August 2007