Vantage Point: A Mandate to Revitalize U. S. Manufacturing

Jan. 14, 2011
The Association For Manufacturing Technology offers a plan to develop innovative products, increase global competitiveness, and build a better-educated workforce

America needs a comprehensive national strategy to revitalize manufacturing. The Manufacturing Mandate, being brought forward by AMT, The Association For Manufacturing Technology, asks political leaders to establish a strategy of collaboration between government, industry, and academia. This federal strategy would foster innovative new products and manufacturing technologies; ensure the availability of capital; increase global competitiveness; minimize structural cost burdens; and build a better educated and trained “smartforce.”

Though the U. S. continues to be the world’s leading manufacturing economy, our country has run a trade deficit in advanced technology products since 2002. We must take action that goes far beyond commissioning studies to ensure revitalization and develop a model for future growth. Our Manufacturing Mandate provides a clear path and cohesive approach to promote real economic growth.

While many resources are already in place, building a functional model requires collaboration. The critical focus must be on incentivizing innovation and R&D. The existing national network of Manufacturing Innovation Clusters are natural hot spots for advances in manufacturing technology. AMT believes it can have a positive impact by identifying those technologies that have been created for specific applications but have potential for broader use, then linking the manufacturing community with universities and government agencies to move those technologies forward.

We can learn from excellent models — countries including Germany, Switzerland, and China — where industry associations successfully collaborate with educational institutions and government sectors comparable to our Departments of Defense, Transportation, and Energy to identify opportunities upon which industry can capitalize. We also support reauthorization and funding of the America Competes Act, which promotes basic research, science, and engineering education, and commercialization of advanced technologies; improving the R&D tax credit; and funding targeted growth technologies.

Other Manufacturing Mandate principles include:

• Ensure availability of capital by revising SBA/government lending requirements for manufacturers that consider economic conditions; provide credit to defense-critical manufacturers; and provide incentives to banks making capital loans to qualified manufacturers.

• Improve global competitiveness by modernizing U. S. export control policy; strengthen intellectual property protection; and streamline the business visa process with major trading partners.

• Minimize structural cost burdens through lower business taxes and fewer regulations while encouraging investment in new equipment and plants.

• Build a better-educated and trained “smartforce” by developing a national manufacturing-skills certification program; support grants, scholarships, and incentives for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) degrees; and use Manufacturing Extension Partnerships (MEPs) as centers of manufacturing excellence to train and support local manufacturers.

• Create an Interagency Manufacturing Structure comprised of Cabinet officials, industry leaders, and academics; and support targeted technology challenges.

We are calling on members of Congress and community leaders to endorse The Manufacturing Mandate. AMT is poised to work with the government, industry, and the academic community to develop policy, focus research, and coordinate implementation of this national strategy. MD

The full Manufacturing Mandate: Unleashing a Dynamic Innovation Economy is available at www.amtonline.org.

Edited by Kenneth J. Korane

© 2011 Penton Media, Inc.

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