Make It In America: Maintaining Our Lead in Manufacturing

Last week the White House recognized a number of people who "Make It In America" — individuals and businesses working to create high-quality jobs in America.  Companies like Lighting Science Group, a leading LED lighting company, and UEC, which manufactures the GREENS power system for the US Marine Corps, show why the United States remains the largest manufacturing economy in the world.  We salute these Champions of Change and everyone else who is “making it in America”!

Revitalizing American manufacturing is a top priority for the Obama Administration.  As President Obama has said, “If we want a robust, growing economy, we need a robust, growing manufacturing sector.” In its June 2011 report on "Ensuring American Leadership in Advanced Manufacturing," the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) recommended that the President launch a “whole of government” effort to encourage advanced manufacturing. A keystone outcome was the launch of the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP), a government-university-industry collaboration that was announced by the President at Carnegie-Mellon University in June. 

PCAST’s AMP Steering Committee has embarked on a series of regional meetings and launched a website to hear from stakeholders about what it takes to make it in America and how the Federal government, industry, and academia can work together to make America’s manufacturers even more competitive. AMP’s first regional meeting took place last month in Atlanta at Georgia Tech. (Click here for the video.)  Some 250 stakeholders, ranging from family-owned manufacturers to global companies, along with researchers, economic development experts from state and local government, and leaders of key Federal programs gathered to share their ideas.  Upcoming meetings in Boston on November 28, the Bay Area of California on December 5, and Ann Arbor, Michigan on December 12 will expand and enrich the discussion. These meetings are open to any person or organization wishing to share their ideas with the AMP Steering Committee. The AMP Steering Committee also invites interested parties to provide their views through the AMP website.

The message we heard from attendees at the Georgia Tech meeting was loud, clear, and inspiring: We can and must compete to lead the world in advanced manufacturing.  We can build new advanced manufacturing facilities here, ensure that existing ones do not leave our shores, and attract advanced manufacturing investment from abroad, all of which creates good-paying  jobs, grows our exports, and supports innovation.  But to do so, we need to collaborate more effectively and act more strategically than we have in the past.  Federal, state, and local policies have to mesh, rather than send mixed signals to companies.  The educational system, especially at the high school, community college, and four-year college levels, needs to produce graduates who are fluent in skills that are relevant to advanced manufacturing and ready for the job from Day One.  Manufacturers have to communicate clearly and consistently what they need from government and from educational and research institutions – and they have to invest in building the relationships with programs, schools, and communities that will let them make the most of what America has to offer.

There is much to do, but it can—and must—be done. Check out the AMP website, consider attending one of the upcoming meetings, and think about how you can help ensure that the United States leads the world in advanced manufacturing in the century ahead.

David Hart is Assistant Director for Innovation Policy at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

Your Federal Tax Receipt