Yesterday, the Nonpartisan Policy Alliance attended a discussion on the future of American manufacturing. The event was hosted by Senator Chris Coons and key participants in the Manufacturing USA program. Upon hearing from this expert panel, several things became increasingly apparent to us.
First, manufacturing is not dead in America. It actually accounts for the majority of research and development done in our country, employs around 10% of the workforce, and represents a significant portion of our exports. This sector is still vital to America’s economic wellbeing.
Second, manufacturing is vital to America’s national security. This has been true ever since Alexander Hamilton stressed the importance of a strong manufacturing base to George Washington shortly after the Revolutionary War. Today, new technologies will dominate the wars and conflicts of the world. Our rivals, most notably China, are well aware of this fact and have been aggressively pursuing dominance in the production of technologies which will have the greatest military advantages.
Third, America can lead the world in advanced manufacturing if we are committed to doing so. We still have all of the advantages. We have the world’s best academic institutions for research, we have strong intellectual property laws, and we have the world’s most lucrative consumer market. So how do we capitalize on these advantages to revolutionize our manufacturing industry?
The Manufacturing USA program is essential to maintaining American dominance in emerging technologies. This model of combining academic research with public and private funding is so effective that it has been copied by our top manufacturing competitors in Europe and Asia. In fact, as part of China’s most recent five year plan they have set a goal of creating over 90 such manufacturing institutions. We have 14.
America must expand our network of manufacturing institutes. We must ensure that they are adequately funded even beyond the initial five year window for federal funding. And we must ensure that entrepreneurs and small manufacturers have access to investors and lenders who understand technology and engineering enough to recognize the next great invention when they see it.
For more information on this critical subject, please visit our Advanced Manufacturing page at policyallies.com. You can also visit manufacturingusa.com.