Aerospace, cluster development, international clusters, cluster lifecycles, transportation equipment


Following the closure of Plattsburgh Air Force Base in 1995, the northeastern region of New York State faced a unique economic development challenge. In addition to the loss of the air base, the rural area suffers from urbanization and automation in manufacturing trends. While the quality of life is highly rated, population and job growth stagnate. Isolated geographically by Lake Champlain to the East, the Adirondack Mountains to the South and West, and long distances to southern economic centers in the state, the region has looked north of the Canadian border and positioned itself as "Montreal's US suburb". Economic developers have crafted bi-national agreements between regional organizations, improved cross-border infrastructure, and enhanced educational institutions for the purpose of attracting Canadian and international manufacturers to the region. In 2015, the North American Center of Excellence in Transportation Equipment was launched and six new companies joined the cluster, doubling its size and perhaps providing a base for further growth. Manufacturing jobs are likely to grow for the first time in more than 20-years. We use cluster theory to argue that this formation of companies may still be insufficient to catalyze cluster emergence and the desired goal of regional competitiveness. Moving forward in the crafting of regional economic development policy, we emphasize the importance of viewing the North American Center of Excellence for Transportation Equipment as a pre-emergent cluster in need of further support to reach its potential.      

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