Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, is drafting legislation to develop what he hopes will be a pipeline of innovation for the manufacturing sector.
“Our workers are the most productive, now we need to make them the most innovative,” Brown said of U.S. workers during a conference call Tuesday.
The bill will support the creation of a National Network of Manufacturing Innovation — a $1 billion concept President Barack Obama introduced in March 2012 calling for the establishment of 15 manufacturing innovation institutes across the country, the first of which will be in Youngstown, Ohio.
Dubbed the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, the Youngstown pilot institute — a $70 million public-private partnership — is intended to serve as a regional manufacturing hub for additive manufacturing, or 3D printing.
Ideally, as in Youngstown, the centers will serve as “regional hubs of advanced manufacturing” and leverage existing technologies, Brown said. Thus, the sites selected for institutes would be based upon the technologies available in those areas.
“In some ways, it’s like the NNMI is like a teaching hospital for manufacturers,” Brown said.
While the working goal is 15, the actual number of centers developed will depend on the success rate of the initiative, the senator said.
Brown said the NNMI would “establish the U.S. as a leader in a range of next generation technologies,” not only making the country more competitive globally but also creating high-tech manufacturing jobs domestically.
He already has seen interest from industry — from steel to clean energy to durable medical equipment manufacturers — in projects such as NNMI, and Brown and the administration expect the centers to become self-sustaining within seven years.