Brown: Ensuring Ohio can out-innovate the worldWritten by Guest Author | | GuestAuthor@toledofreepress.com
In Ohio, we know that manufacturing is a ticket to the middle class. But for too long, Washington has made choices that leave domestic manufacturing behind — whether it’s bad trade deals, not enforcing trade laws, unfair taxes or not investing in innovation and technology.
As a result, our nation has suffered more than 60,000 plant closures since 2000, and lost more than 5 million manufacturing jobs. This affects our entire economy because manufacturing has a larger multiplier effect than any other industry. In fact, for every $1 spent in manufacturing, another $1.48 is added to the economy.
While we are beginning to see growth in cutting-edge manufacturing and technology jobs, the “innovate here, make it there” syndrome — where American businesses create new products but make them overseas — is holding us back. We must do better.
A few years ago, I visited the nation’s largest yogurt production facility in Minster, Ohio. At Dannon, the plant workers told me about how they realized there was a more efficient and less expensive way to produce the yogurt. By designing a new, simple process to fill the yogurt containers, the workers showed firsthand how innovative processes are often discovered on the factory floor.
When American manufacturing moves to other countries we don’t just lose production, we also forgo the innovation.
That’s why Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo. and I introduced the Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act of 2013, which would create a Network for Manufacturing Innovation in an attempt to position the U.S. as the world’s leader in advanced manufacturing.
We do better when we work together — and a Network for Manufacturing Innovation would establish a public-private partnership giving small businesses, industry leaders and research institutions the tools they need to compete on a global scale. These regional, industry-led hubs will leverage local expertise and will hopefully create thousands of high-paying, high-tech manufacturing jobs for next-generation workers.
In August, the first-ever manufacturing network — the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII) — opened in Youngstown, Ohio. Now called America Makes, this hub is becoming a national model for tying together manufacturing supply chains with product development. The institute is supported by $30 million of federal funding and matched by $40 million of private funds — and it’s making Youngstown a world leader in 3-D printing manufacturing technology.
We need to build on this momentum. Our bipartisan bill is supported by the National Association of Manufacturers and the Semiconductor Equipment Manufacturers, as well as other business, labor, and university groups.
Our workers have the drive, the creative thinking and the determination to out-innovate the rest of the world. And our legislation will give them the tools to do so and carry the rest of our nation into the next generation of manufacturing.
Sherrod Brown (D) is the senior United States senator from Ohio.
Tags: America Makes, Dannon, innovation and technology, Minster, National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII), National Association of Manufacturers and the Semiconductor Equipment Manufacturers, Ohio, Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act of 2013, Senator Roy Blunt R-Mo, the middle class, Youngstown