Evan Caplan is the Deputy Director for Public Affairs.
Along with thousands of businesses, schools, students, educators, and parents the International Trade Administration (ITA) celebrated the fifth annual Manufacturing Day on Friday, October 7. Across the country, events showcased how manufacturing has become innovative, inventive, and exciting, and the incredible potential in the future of manufacturing. Manufacturing Day, which the Department of Commerce leads, is an annual national event executed at the local level and supported by thousands of manufacturers as they host open houses, plant tours, and presentations designed to display modern manufacturing technology and careers to students and future employees.
On Thursday and Friday, the Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker was in Portland, Oregon at a Makers Gone Pro Event, where she spoke to recent high school graduates pursuing technical careers, and joined 100 students at the Lam Research Facility, the world’s second largest semiconductor equipment manufacturer.
Around the country, other Commerce leaders toured some of America’s most innovative manufacturing facilities.
Acting Assistant Secretary for Industry and Analysis at ITA Ted Dean went to Chicago to visit the Freedman Seating Company, which creates seating and other products for bus, rail, marine, delivery truck, specialty and commercial vehicles. He received a tour and spoke with students and young professionals from the Young Manufacturers Association. He then went to Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute, or DMDII. There, he participated in a roundtable discussion with local and community leaders focusing on workforce development and the growing digitization of manufacturing.
“Seven years ago, nobody could have predicted the manufacturing resurgence we have seen” he said. “The job numbers alone speak volumes. There are 828,000 more Americans working in manufacturing than there were 6 years ago.”
Regarding digital technologies, he said that “they now drive at least 5 percent of our national GDP, and the Internet’s impact extends far beyond our borders. In the developed markets of the G-20, the digital economy is projected to grow at an annual rate of 8 percent over the next five years – outpacing just about every other traditional sector.”
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Textiles, Consumer Goods, and Materials Felicia Pullam visited RMI’s On the Road to Manufacturing 4.0 and Beyond Under Armour Lighthouse, a brand-new space in Baltimore making innovative advances in athletic products.
ITA Deputy Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing Laura Taylor-Kale visited PowerAmerica, which creates energy-efficient power devices for a range of industries, like electric vehicles, industrial motors, solar and wind farms, and data centers. She toured the Wolfspeed Semiconductor Foundry, the Phononic Manufacturing Line, and the Windlift Production Facility. At each of these, she spoke to industry partners about the importance of their work. Later, she also spoke on a roundtable with students on the sustainability of manufacturing. The day ended at a Research Triangle CleanTech Cluster event with PowerAmerica, where she was a featured guest in the proceedings. “I am proud to be part of this incredible event,” she said. “Manufacturing Day is a great occasion to celebrate local industry and stoke community pride.”
SelectUSA Executive Director Vinay Thummalapally visited K-Form, which develops and manufactures technical products specializing in high-performance enclosures, and Nova Labs, an innovative, membership-driven, all-volunteer makerspace based in Reston, Virginia that was founded in 2011 with the purpose of empowering everyone to “Rediscover the Joy of Making Things!” They hosted local schools, educators, and community members.
Through initiatives like Manufacturing Day and others, the Department of Commerce helps create the conditions for a skilled workforce, opens new markets for American goods, and drives innovation which ultimately keeps America Open for Business.