Pennsylvania Announces Lightning Manufacturing Project, Creation of 'Virtual Corporations'

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge joined representatives from industrial and technology companies last week in announcing the Lightning Manufacturing Project, which allows businesses to collaborate via the Internet as "virtual corporations."

The virtual corporations use a new business model called the Virtual Corporation Management System (VCMS), which provides a secure communications architecture for groups of companies to exchange information, perform procurements, access technology and form new companies to meet product and procurement opportunities. "This project, with the [VCMS] at its core, will allow manufacturing industries across the commonwealth to compete and flourish in the digital economy of the future," Ridge said.

The project has been touted as a collaborative effort spearheaded by the state. Participants include three Pennsylvania universities; Ingersoll-Rand, a Woodcliff Lake, N.J.-based industrial products manufacturer; Lockheed Martin Corp. IBM Corp. and other private companies. The participating companies employ 20,000 workers in Pennsylvania and purchase about $700 million worth of state-made products each year.

The Lightning Manufacturing Project is part of Ridge's "friction-free" government initiative, which focuses on the Internet as a means of creating easily accessible and seamless government services through electronic commerce.

The companies estimate the project could increase purchases of Pennsylvania products by 10 percent per year, and Ridge indicated that the project would be used to identify other tax and regulatory actions that can advance e-commerce.

The powdered metals and industrial electronics industries will be the first to employ the VCMS model and create virtual corporations, said Herbert Henkel, president and chief executive officer of Ingersoll-Rand.

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