MI Sen. Peters pushing manufacturing focus

U.S. Senator Gary Peters has announced a new proposal to establish a National Institute of Manufacturing during his keynote address at the MForesight Manufacturing Summit in Washington, DC. Inspired by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the institute would serve as the hub for federal manufacturing programs, promote efforts to help our workforce close the skills gap and function as the focal point for developing a national strategy focused on ensuring American manufacturing policy can rapidly respond to changes in the global marketplace.

Through his visits to manufacturers across Michigan, Peters has heard about the need for a unified strategy on manufacturing to revitalize the industry and keep pace with competitors in other countries.

“In Michigan, our automakers, parts suppliers, and advanced manufacturers have worked hard to harness transformative technologies and the opportunities they present,” Peters said during the speech. “They are constantly innovating, finding ways to make goods faster, lighter, more efficient and more affordable. But to keep up in an increasingly competitive global marketplace, this broad and dynamic industry needs a comprehensive national strategy backed by strong policy guidelines and sustained federal investments – to take advantage of emerging opportunities and retain our position as a world leader in manufacturing.

“Our international competitors know something I have said for years: You cannot be a great country if you don’t manufacture great products to sell worldwide. Other nations identify their goals, their plans, and then execute. The United States, on the other hand, has no comprehensive national manufacturing policy and no key person in charge of guiding U.S. manufacturers through the tumultuous changes that lie ahead.

“Our manufacturing capabilities are not just an economic concern – they are also in our national security interests. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and as the Ranking Member of the Homeland Security Committee, I am keenly aware that a strong manufacturing industry is key to our national defense and military readiness.

“Establishing the National Institute of Manufacturing – and creating a national manufacturing policy – will help restore our competitive advantage and ensure that if we invent it here – we will also manufacture it here.”

Peters’ proposal drew praise from several Michigan stakeholders.

“The Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center is extremely thankful for Senator Peters’ continued focus on the manufacturing industry not just in Michigan, but nationwide,” said Mike Coast, President, Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center. “His proposed National Institute of Manufacturing is further evidence of his commitment to elevate the importance of manufacturing and to align the government’s resources to best support it.”

“The nation’s manufacturing community truly appreciates Senator Peters’ leadership in addressing the important challenge of restoring globally competitive advanced manufacturing to the United States,” said Sridhar Kota, Herrick Professor of Engineering, University of Michigan. “His proposed National Institute of Manufacturing is a critical missing piece needed to bridge the gap between research and manufacturing to create national wealth and security. It’s an opportunity to boost innovation, establish high-quality production jobs and industries of the future on our shores.”

According to the Government Accountability Office, there are 58 specific manufacturing programs across 11 different federal agencies. Unfortunately, these programs often do not work with one another to pursue shared goals that would advance American manufacturing.

Peters’ proposal would establish an independent national manufacturing agency and be led by a Chief Manufacturing Officer who would report directly to the President of the United States and that would directly manage the institute and lead initiatives to help form a national manufacturing strategy.

He plans to introduce legislation in the coming months after getting feedback and working to build bipartisan support.

Peters has long championed efforts in Congress to help revitalize American manufacturing competiveness. During his maiden Senate floor speech in 2015, manufacturing was a central focus for Peters, who emphasized how Michigan factories built the “Great Arsenal of Democracy” that defeated tyranny, won World War II and in the process created America’s middle class.

He stressed that while Michigan products move and feed the nation “we cannot rest on our laurels” and must keep working towards “the next big thing.” Peters’ bipartisan American Innovation and Competitiveness Act that was signed into law in January 2017, which promotes diversity in STEM fields, incentivizes private-sector innovation, and aims to improve advanced manufacturing and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), a public-private partnership to support small- and medium-sized manufacturers.

Additionally, Peters authored provisions that were signed into law aimed at closing the workforce skills gap by strengthening career and technical education (CTE) counseling training.

Earlier this month, Peters introduced bipartisan legislation that would better assess the impacts of automation on workers in order to inform workforce development strategies and best practices.

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