In Oregon, The Future is NOW

July 26, 2011
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Nicole Lamb-Hale is the Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing and Services within the International Trade Administration.

Some people across the country claim that manufacturing is dead, and that the U.S. doesn’t make things any longer.  Well, aside from the fact that the manufacturing sector has led the economic recovery over the past two years, with more than 230,000 jobs added since the beginning of 2010, I can tell you first hand that manufacturing is alive and well in Oregon. 

This past week, I traveled to Portland for a meeting of the Manufacturing Council. This is a Council of private sector executives representing a variety of industries, including steel, textile, superconductor and solar panel manufacturers and whose products support a diverse range of industries in, among others, the automotive, aerospace, apparel and energy efficiency sectors. At their meeting, members deliberated on letters of recommendation ranging from their support for the Colombia and Panama Trade Agreements to creating a clean energy standard and filling the skills gap that currently exists in the manufacturing workforce.

While in Oregon, I also had the chance to visit a number of manufacturing facilities where I saw how cutting edge innovations are spurring job growth.

Companies such as PCC Structurals which manufactures advanced castings used for aircrafts, automobiles and medical devices.  PCC employs over 2,600 people and is currently exporting all over the world with plans to expand to even more markets with the help of the local U.S. Export Assistance Center.

At Chris King Precision Components, I learned how this small business is able to use forward-thinking, innovative and sustainable methods to become a leader in the production of high-end precision aluminum, steel and titanium bicycle components.  Not only are its parts currently being used in the Tour De France, but nearly 40 percent of the company’s products are exported to Europe and Asia.

Finally, I had the opportunity to visit United Streetcar, a company that designs and builds modern streetcars and is positioned to be a pioneering force in increasing urban transit options throughout the United States. Chandra Brown, the President of United Streetcar and Vice Chair of the Manufacturing Council, noted that once the streetcar propulsion system is installed, the vehicle will be made with over 90 percent of U.S. content!

So is manufacturing dead?  Not if Oregon has anything to say about it.