In his State of the Union address President Obama placed manufacturing front and center.
He boldly declared: “Our first priority is making America a magnet for new jobs and manufacturing.”
The President pointed out that after having lost manufacturing jobs for the past decade, 500,000 new manufacturing jobs have been added. And he cited specific companies.
“Caterpillar is bringing jobs back from Japan. Ford is bringing jobs back from Mexico. After locating plants in other countries like China, Intel is opening its most advanced plant right here at home. And this year, Apple will start making Macs in America again.”
To “accelerate the trend" he held up the example of t manufacturing innovation institute that was instituted in Youngstown, Ohio. “A once-shuttered warehouse is now a state-of-the art lab where new workers are mastering the 3D printing that has the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything. There’s no reason this can’t happen in other towns.
“So tonight, I’m announcing the launch of three more of these manufacturing hubs, where businesses will partner with the Departments of Defense and Energy to turn regions left behind by globalization into global centers of high-tech jobs. And I ask this Congress to help create a network of fifteen of these hubs and guarantee that the next revolution in manufacturing is Made in America.”
The country will invest $1 billion to establish these hubs that will be achieved through partnerships with business. Three will be launched this year under executive authority.
Reaction was varied across manufacturing groups.
“Our continued recovery from the Great Recession will be powered in large part by our growth in our traded sectors, including manufacturing,” says Robert Atkinson, President of ITIF. “To accomplish this goal we need to produce better and more innovative products and services that will enhance American global competitiveness. President Obama’s call for a national network of manufacturing innovation institutes will provide the knowledge, technical capacity and job skills necessary to keep American manufacturing on the cutting edge.”
National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) CEO Jay Timmons issued this statement in response to President Obama’s State of the Union address tonight:
“Manufacturers welcomed the President’s remarks on immigration reform and STEM education, which show a true commitment to developing the skilled workforce desperately needed. It is encouraging to see a promise of infrastructure investment that will serve as a foundation of future manufacturing. The announcement of negotiations toward a free trade agreement with the European Union represents a significant step forward in leveling the playing field in foreign markets. However, equally important is creating an atmosphere where employers can hire workers and invest in their businesses.
It is impossible to expect manufacturing to thrive when manufacturers are deprived of the tools they need to compete in the global economy while battling a 20% cost disadvantage. While tonight’s speech had a familiar focus on economic growth and recovery, we unfortunately didn’t hear a call for action on comprehensive tax reform that will benefit manufacturers. A manufacturing resurgence won’t come from limiting the global power of manufacturers. Tax reform is essential because it is our uncompetitive system that is hurting manufacturers both at home and in the global marketplace. We need a regulatory policy that lessens the burden on job creators and an ‘all-of-the-above’ energy policy and approval of the Keystone XL pipeline that will power manufacturers for years to come.
Americans have been waiting for years for a real, sustained recovery. Manufacturers have been doing their part despite policies that stand directly in the way of growth. Previous State of the Union addresses provided strong rhetorical support. Now it’s time for the President and Congress to act and implement the Growth Agenda that manufacturers have laid out. If he does so, we will not simply be talking about recovery—we will be living it.”
While Scott Paul, director of Alliance for American Manufacturing was glad that “manufacturing was once again front and center in the State of the Union” he felt that the policies “still fall woefully short of last year's campaign rhetoric.”
"I saw no mention of his campaign pledge to create one million new manufacturing jobs. Yes, 500,000 manufacturing jobs have been added over the past three years, but virtually none since last April. That's simply not good enough.
"Expanding trade in Asia and Europe can be a good thing, but not if countries refuse to play by the rules. Completely absent from this year's speech? Trade enforcement. Tomorrow, the president will appear at an auto parts manufacturer in North Carolina. This is an industry besieged by Chinese imports. We could do a lot more good for American jobs by lowering our trade deficit with China first.
"We agree with the President that reforming the tax code makes a great deal of sense. We need to incentivize manufacturing in America, and recognize the outsized contribution that manufacturing makes to the rest of the economy.
"We look forward to working with the President on his ideas for a network of innovation institutes for manufacturing, and for training more workers for manufacturing careers. But we'll continue to remind the President of the need for bolder policies and stopping China's cheating on its trade obligations.