COLUMBUS, OH - The opening of a state-of-the-art virtual manufacturing center, that creates 3-D models of aerospace products still in the design phase, will launch the state of Ohio into the 21st century and drive innovation in the aerospace industry, according to the Ohio Business Development Coalition, the nonprofit organization that markets the state for capital investment.

The $1.2 million Boeing Virtual Manufacturing Center (VMC) opened this month at the Central Ohio Aerospace and Technology Center (COATC) in Licking County. The VMC will bring 30 to 60 new jobs to the Heath facility within 12 to 18 months and retain more than 500 positions within the first three years of the project's initial operation. Project funding includes a $500,000 state-local incentive package including a $200,000 Rapid Outreach Grant through the Ohio Department of Development.

"This virtual reality tool and the Virtual Manufacturing Center puts the state of Ohio on the global map in terms of manufacturing capabilities and is a quantum leap into a brighter future for the Central Ohio Aerospace and Technology Center," said Rick Platt, director for the Heath-Newark-Licking County Port Authority. "Boeing does more than $6 billion a year in business in Ohio and surrounding states, and the VMC could quickly become an aerospace product development mecca for the hundreds of Boeing suppliers in Ohio and the Midwest. This investment puts the Aerospace Center on the map in an unprecedented way."

Among its applications, the VMC can display engineering designs in virtual reality helping technicians discover ways to improve the manufacturing process. Workers have access to a real-time visual experience with prototype products that have not yet been produced. The VMC will expand Boeing-Heath's capabilities, allowing it to introduce technical and engineering data into the manufacturing process in a very cutting edge way.