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What the White House Is Doing to Stimulate Advanced Manufacturing in the U.S.

What the White House Is Doing to Stimulate Advanced Manufacturing in the U.S.

At the end of October, the co-chairs of the American Manufacturing Partnership (AMP), Dow’s CEO Andrew Liveris and MIT’s Rafael Reif, gave Barack Obama the elite advisory group’s final recommendations. Back in June 2011, Barack Obama called on 19 industry leaders to form the AMP to gather facts and make recommendations for bringing manufacturing back to life. Recommendations in the three years since then, and Presidential initiatives have already been put in place. Whether it was the President, the Fed, industry leadership, or the economic tide, getting manufacturing back to business has been a good thing.

The White House explained AMP’s new recommendations and some new policy initiatives launched as a response to them in a recent post. The recommendations cluster around three pillars -- innovation, the talent pipeline, and the business climate. A total of $530 million spread out over several years will fund the new programs. Here’s where the money will go:

  • Innovation: $300 million for research, and industry/university technology testbeds to develop advanced materials, advanced sensors, and digital manufacturing.
  • Talent pipeline: $100 million in grants for new apprenticeship programs in fields like advanced manufacturing. It’s good to see recognition of the importance of the plant floor workforce.
  • Technology: The $130 million goes to the NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnerships in 10 states for a competition for new supply chain technology upgrades for small manufacturers. It will be interesting to see what that means.

Half a million dollars is not an overwhelming amount of money, but the value may not lie in the research, education, and technology upgrades alone. To his credit, President Obama has done a lot to shine a light on manufacturing -- and to openly be willing to learn something. He has asked questions on plant visits and in meetings with business groups. Establishing AMP was one of the ways he has asked manufacturers what’s important. Speeches, blogs, and press releases have helped elevate the conversation about manufacturing. Getting the positive story about manufacturing’s future before the public again and again will help us get rid of that old idea that manufacturing is dark, dirty, and dangerous.

Additional material worth checking out: the Advanced Manufacturing Portal has information about dozens of programs that help manufacturers and how to qualify for them.

Karen Wilhelm has worked in the manufacturing industry for 25 years, and blogs at Lean Reflections, which has been named as one of the top ten lean blogs on the web.

Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a contributing author and not necessarily Gray Construction.