Obama Pledges $500 Million To Reinvent U.S. Manufacturing

June 24, 2011
"We need to reinvigorate our manufacturing industry to lead the world."

President Obama on Friday pledged $500 million to his Advanced Manufacturing Partnership Initiative during a 30-minute speech at Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Engineering Center.

AMP, as the program is called, will harness the power of public-private partnerships between universities, industry and governmental agencies in an effort to streamline innovation and bring products more quickly to market.

"We need to reinvigorate our manufacturing sector to lead the world," Obama said in the speech. "We need to do it now. Not sometime in the future. Now."

AMP will be co-chaired by Susan Hockfield, president of MIT, and Andrew Liveris, chairman, president and CEO of Dow Chemical.

"I'm enthusiastic about the spirit and content of our joint work," Hockfield said in a press release. "and I'm also very eager to build new connections with our colleagues in industry and government with a commitment to advancing the manufacturing frontier together."

The universities involved in initially in the program are the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Carnegie Mellon University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Stanford University, the University of California-Berkeley and the University of Michigan.

Industrial partners will include Allegheny Technologies, Caterpillar, Corning, Dow Chemical, Ford, Honeywell, Intel, Johnson and Johnson, Northrop Grumman, Procter and Gamble, and Stryker.

Those recommendations of the President's Council on Science and Technology (PCAST) recommended the launching AMP and made the following recommendations as to how the Federal government could be involved:

  • Investing in shared infrastructure such as federal and university laboratories;
  • Supporting the development of advanced manufacturing processes; and
  • Participating in partnerships with industry and academia that identify and invest in broadly-applicable, precompetitive emerging technologies.

The president will also outline three compelling reasons why the United States should revitalize its manufacturing leadership: jobs, innovation and national security.

In addition to the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, PCAST calls for changes in tax and business policies, including a permanent extension of the R&D tax credit; continued strong support for basic research in addition to the new emphasis on public-private partnerships to support pre-competitive applied research; and enhanced support for training and educational activities to create a more highly skilled workforce. PCAST also came out against the government creating a national manufacturing policy in favor of a national "innovation policy" instead.

"If we are to grow our economy, we need a strong manufacturing sector," Obama said. "These investments we make today will create jobs in current industries and spur the growth of new ones."

Obama said that Americans don't just keep pace with changes in the world, they set the pace.

"If we can regain our lead as the manufacturing force in the world, we can make this century the American century just like the last one was," he added.

The Alliance for American Manufacturing President Scott Paul released a statement that read:

"Linking manufacturers with the latest cutting-edge research at universities and federal agencies is one step in brightening the prospects for American manufacturing. But we can't stop there.

We welcome President Obama's support for public-private partnerships to develop new products, innovations, and processes for American manufacturing. Pittsburgh is the right place to make this announcement: home of a modern steel industry, great academic institutions, sophisticated research, a skilled workforce, and a strong industrial union.

America has been falling behind in manufacturing while the rest of the world aggressively supports its industry. We are playing catch-up following decades of neglect. The Advanced Manufacturing Partnership shows a lot of promise, but the effort will be futile unless our manufacturers also have a solid foundation of support for challenges like unfair trade practices, currency manipulation, developing a skilled workforce, and a more efficient infrastructure.

We believe, as we imagine you do, that a strong and vibrant manufacturing base is essential to our nation's economic stability, a strong middle class, and employment opportunities for young men and women across America. We also believe that our nation will never realize its full potential to grow the manufacturing sector of our economy without a robust strategy and aggressive set of public policies to complement private sector efforts by business and labor to maintain a globally competitive industry."

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