One word for you – Plastics (and Manufacturing)April 16, 2010
A few weeks ago I had an opportunity to speak directly to a group of Americans who collectively form the backbone of our industrial strength: manufacturers. The American Composite Manufacturers Association (ACMA) invited me to their annual convention in Las Vegas to speak about President Obama’s efforts to revitalize the economy. Composites are basically lightweight, high-strength reinforced plastics and are used to make everything from kayaks and fishing rods, to Humvees and the wings and fuselage of the new Boeing 787. This is an industry with reach. These manufacturers are innovators, offering products the rest of the world wants.
That is why Francisco J. Sánchez, the new Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade, is so focused on supporting the President’s National Export Initiative (NEI), which is designed to increase opportunities for American workers. The NEI will improve the export potential of American companies large and small, revitalize the manufacturing sector, and open up new markets for American exporters. The composites industry is an excellent example of a sector ready for the NEI. They are seeing their highest growth rates in Asian markets – exporting is critical to their growth.
The people I spoke with at the ACMA convention were an excellent snapshot of American manufacturing. We in government need the advice of experienced manufacturers like these to form smart trade policies. That is why the Department of Commerce has the Manufacturing Council (Council). The Council’s main job is to advise the Secretary of Commerce on U.S. policies that affect manufacturing. But it also acts as a forum to promote new ideas for keeping America competitive.
The outgoing Council recently held the final meeting of its charter term, following an important two-year period advising the Secretary of Commerce of both the Bush and Obama Administrations. This Council was a model of how to work effectively on important non-partisan issues. As Secretary of Commerce Locke said, “This Council has tackled some very challenging issues during its two-year tenure… They should feel proud of a job well done.” ITA’s Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing and Services Nicole Lamb-Hale joined Secretary of Locke in informing the Council of the Administration’s policies and listening to members’ feedback on how to improve American manufacturing.
Although the Council members’ term expired on April 10, 2010, I’m happy to announce that we are in the process of recruiting new members for the next two-year term. This is an excellent opportunity to advise the Secretary of Commerce while playing a role in keeping American manufacturing competitive around the world. We are expanding the Council from 15 to 20 members and are seeking a diverse array of people from various industries, sectors, sizes and locations throughout the country. We welcome all interested applicants to send us the relevant information.
American manufacturing is vital to our economic recovery and the work of the next Manufacturing Council will be critical in ensuring that we’re working on the right policies to create jobs and keep our manufacturing sector the best in the world.