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Manufacturing Relies on the Strengths of American Communities

December 16, 2015

This article originally appeared in the White House Blog. Guest blog post by Jason Miller, Deputy Director of the National Economic Council at the White House. 

Today, five years after we pulled our economy back from the brink of collapse, the heartbeat of American manufacturing continues to usher new products and new innovations to the marketplace — driving investments in new technologies that can provide the foundation for future U.S. leadership. In communities across the country, manufacturing firms are again growing and hiring, something thought impossible only a short while ago. Since February 2010, 865,000 new manufacturing jobs have been added – the first sustained job growth in the sector since the 1990s. And new manufacturing establishments have risen in the past two years, as manufacturing entrepreneurship unlocks new opportunities. We need to build on this progress, and we have a long way to go.

Manufacturing

Manufacturing Relies on the Strengths of American Communities

Manufacturing, by definition, is local. We know the strength of America’s competitive edge lays in the talent and resilience of communities, where cutting edge factory floor production takes place, and where strategies for growing the next generation of American manufacturers take root. To help communities compete globally for manufacturing jobs and investment, the President launched the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) – an initiative aimed offering national support for local manufacturing talent and economic development strategies being enacted by communities. By leveraging an arsenal of federal tools, IMCP strengthens the competitive edge of manufacturing communities — attracting global firms to locate their production in these communities, and improve the capacity of small manufacturers which power our domestic supply chains.

Despite early progress, we know that there is much more work to do to help communities rebuild and grow their local manufacturing capabilities to spur continued production and innovation. The Department of Commerce and the White House brought together 11 federal agencies with over $1 billion in economic development funding, and more than 300 community leaders from across the country for the second annual IMCP Summit – to share best practices amongst the IMCP communities to continue their investments in targeted manufacturing sectors. The Summit not only convened the 24 communities with official IMCP designations, but also community leaders, industry executives, economic development officers, and towns across the country who, IMCP designation or not, are actively committed to nurturing local manufacturing growth, and positioning the sector’s health as central to their regional economic growth strategies. These communities are stepping up and aligning local resources to make themselves beacons for investment, positioning last week’s Summit as the ideal forum to disseminate best practices for additional growth, and identify ways the Obama Administration could continuing supporting local plans for success.

The Tennessee Valley, for example, leveraged federal programs to build upon the region’s robust investment in workforce development, and facilities upgrades — strengthening the case for attracting manufacturers to set up shop in the region. That in turn spurred investment confidence among companies like DENSO, a global auto parts supplier, to invest $400 million in expanding an electronics manufacturing warehouse facility and add 500 new, high-paying jobs to the Valley.

A similar opportunity was realized in Southeast Michigan, another IMCP designee, which marshalled $32.5 million in public and private resources, allowing Magneti Marelli, another global auto parts supplier, to expand factory facilities in the Detroit region. By coupling federal tools and programs, to complement already robust local strategies that leverage the dynamism of local talent, communities like Southeast Michigan are accelerating growth for small and medium sized firms.

And that momentum is being realized in towns across the country. The Finger Lakes Region of New York attracted $34.8 million in investment to usher 1,000 jobs to Rochester, NY in photovoltaic manufacturing; and Cincinnati, OH has expanded workforce training programs to bring online nearly 8,000 manufacturing jobs in the last two years. The second round of IMCP communities, designated in 2015, is also attracting investment from private sources based on the strength of their comprehensive economic development plans. In August, the pharmaceutical and biosciences enterprise GlaxoSmithKline — which had announced plans four years ago to sell off its manufacturing plant and leave Memphis — instead announced plans instead to invest another $2 million to upgrade the infrastructure & equipment at its operation there, supporting nearly 300 jobs.

These designated Manufacturing Communities demonstrate how a well-integrated manufacturing sector is critical to America’s continued growth and prosperity. The Summit underscored the need to continue making these vital investments, not just to arm communities with the tools necessary to win the future, but also to seed ensure private sector research and development takes root right here, on U.S. soil.

That’s why since day one President Obama has been committed, through initiatives like the IMCP, to reverse the decline of the previous decade that harmed too many communities across the country. And now, these communities are coming back, once again making the case that the United States is the best place in the world for investment. If we stay focused on winning this race, and make smart, responsible federal and local investments, we can help ensure the next revolution in manufacturing is an American revolution.

Editor’s Note: MEP centers are partners in 23 of the 24 communities designated to-date.

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