Plans include support to help small and medium-sized manufacturers access new technologies.
President Obama is in Cleveland today, where he’s expected to announce nearly $500 million in new initiatives to boost American manufacturing, including a new manufacturing institute competition and funding for services to strengthen small manufacturers in 12 states.
The Department of Defense will head the competition for a new $150 million Manufacturing Innovation Institute focused on “revolutionary fibers and textiles technology,” according to the White House. The new institute will be the ninth in a network of institutes that are designed to be a regional hub for manufacturing activity among companies, universities, federal agencies and other players.
Obama also will announce a $320 million competition for nonprofits in 12 states to “provide technology and engineering expertise to small manufacturers” through the Manufacturing Extension Partnership’s network of 60 centers. Winners will receive funding to “expand the range of lean production and technology acceleration services offered to small manufacturers, and help bring their products to market” in Alaska, Idaho, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Utah, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
Half of the funding for both competitions will come from the private sector, according to the White House.
In addition, the president will launch the White House Supply Chain Innovation Initiative, which is designed to close the technology and resource gap that small and medium-sized supply chain manufacturers face compared to larger companies and organizations. The White House notes that while small manufacturers employ 42 percent of manufacturing workers, they often lag behind their peers in adopting new technologies such as 3D printing.
The Obama administration plans to convene a roundtable of CEOs and others later this year to help small businesses “accelerate technology adoption, strengthen the linkages within domestic supply chains, and to improve product design and process engineering.”
Here at the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM), we applaud the president for these important efforts to support U.S. manufacturing. But we also caution that the initiatives are just one piece of the puzzle. As AAM President Scott Paul noted:
"The president announced new initiatives to boost American manufacturing, and that's important. But he refuses to get behind the one thing that would help boost Ohio manufacturing jobs right now — stopping currency manipulation by countries like Japan and China.
Ohio lost 50,900 jobs in 2013 alone due to our trade deficit with Japan. The Trans-Pacific Partnership must include enforceable currency provisions to ensure we don't trade away more jobs."
It is vital that the administration and Congress work together to do more to create a level playing field for American workers and businesses, including by:
- Supporting middle class jobs by ensuring there’s a rule in the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to prevent currency cheating by countries such as Japan;
- Holding countries not in the TPP — including China — accountable for their currency cheating, which would create 5.8 million new jobs in just three years; and
- Investing in a long-term plan to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure, which will create up to 2.5 million jobs and make America more competitive on the international stage.