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Blog Category: Manufacturing

Make It and Move It

steel girder rails

Cross-posted on the NIST MEP blog

Without manufacturing, transportation would mean walking barefoot. Without transportation (and manufacturing), there would be no global economy. Fortunately for us, there are trains, trucks, planes, bikes and cars (and shoes!), all of which need to be made. So do bridges, roads, terminals, safety signs and tracks. All these seemingly disparate things work in concert to create the economic systems that keep America buying and selling and building and moving.

And, fortunately for our country, most, if not all, of the transportation infrastructure and supporting transportation equipment can and perhaps should be manufactured here. Transportation is not an end in itself. It’s a means to achieving American manufacturing and economic prosperity — a very big and very important means.

I know that American manufacturers can make anything and everything. The problem is matching manufacturing capability with long-term, predictable business opportunities that make sense.

Recently, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) teamed up to address some of the issues that have hampered the matching of opportunity with ability. The partnership was set up to find domestic manufacturing capacity for steel girder rails. Yes, steel girder rails. There are 60 cities in the United States that are planning, designing or constructing systems for street cars.  Yes, street cars. (If your mind just wandered off to the scene in Meet Me in St. Louis when Judy Garland sang, “the Trolley Song,” you’ve got the picture.)

Make It In America

Whip Hoyer discusses the Make It In America agenda with employees at Antenna Research Associates, Inc., a manufacturer in Maryland's fifth district.

Guest post by Rep. Steny Hoyer, Minority Whip of the U.S. House of Representatives

American manufacturing helped make this the most prosperous country on earth—and it helped build a strong middle class. As we continue to focus on job creation and economic growth, I believe a key part of that effort must be rebuilding our manufacturing strength. That’s why House Democrats have created the Make It In America agenda: it’s about creating the conditions for American businesses to innovate here, create jobs here, make products here, and sell them to the world—and about making sure we have a workforce qualified for well-paying jobs. I believe strongly that when we make more products in America, more families will be able to Make It In America, as well.

Even as much of our economy has struggled, the manufacturing sector has consistently added jobs—it’s been a bright spot for our recovery. But the news isn’t all good. Manufacturing employment is still near its lowest point since World War II. And more worryingly, the index of manufacturing activity—a measure of the sector’s productivity and growth—fell sharply last month, to its lowest point since fall of 2009.

Whether or not you work in manufacturing, that ought to concern you for a number of reasons. Manufacturing stimulates more activity across our whole economy than any other sector—so a fall in manufacturing activity is felt across the economy, which is bad for all of us. It’s also bad for the middle class because manufacturing jobs pay better-than-average wages, and it’s bad for America’s competitiveness because China has overtaken us as the world leader in the dollar value of manufacturing output. Last but not least, a decline in manufacturing is bad for American innovation.  As assembly lines move overseas, innovation often follows to be closer to production.  That’s resulted in America losing the innovative lead in a number of technological fields, from precision optics to photovoltaic cells to computer chips—we can’t afford to lose ground elsewhere.

Assistant Secretary Fernandez To Mayors: "Manufacturing Goes Hand-in-Hand with Innovation"

Assistant Secretary Fernandez Tells Mayor's "manufacturing goes hand in hand with innovation"

Guest Blog by John Fernandez, Assistant Secretary for Economic Development.

I had the pleasure of addressing the National Conference of Black Mayors 2011 Legislative Policy Summit in Washington, D.C. today. I focused on what the Obama administration is doing to grow local economic ecosystems and help create jobs, particularly in manufacturing.

The summit of almost 40 mayors from across the nation was a great opportunity for intergovernmental collaboration and provided an excellent platform to share best practices and discuss the challenges of creating jobs and increasing competitiveness. 

As a former mayor myself, I understood the pressing issues facing these leaders. They are the same issues the Obama administration is aggressively tackling at the federal level. And they all boil down to creating more jobs, particularly in manufacturing.

The manufacturing sector currently employs over 11 million Americans, providing good-paying jobs for millions of families. Preparing Americans to enter into the manufacturing sector will not only strengthen the economy and put folks back to work, it’s critical to our nation’s success as we compete in a 21st century global economy. 

Growing Exports with the New Market Exporter Initiative

NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons tours Muscatine Foods in Iowa with the chairman of the company, Gage Kent.

Guest blog by Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers.

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the Department of Commerce are working together to achieve President Obama’s goal of doubling exports by 2014. The New Market Exporter Initiative (NMEI) will make it easier for manufacturers to identify new markets, find new customers for their products and grow their business.

Exports are a key part of any competitiveness agenda. Ninety-five percent of the world’s consumers live outside of the United States. With the right tools and resources, manufacturers can increase their exports and find new customers.

Many of these manufacturers don’t have the resources to conduct extensive research on new possible export markets. Small and medium-sized firms, for example, account for 95 percent of all exporters in the U.S., yet only about one-third of all exports. The NMEI helps small and medium-sized manufacturers that are currently exporting to one or two countries expand their export sales to new markets. 

U.S. Companies and Technology on Display at the 2011 Paris Air Show

Boeing 777

Guest Blog by Francisco Sanchez, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade

This week I have had the privilege of attending the 2011 Paris Air Show, the largest aerospace industry show in the world. Since arriving on Sunday, I’ve participated in numerous industry events, met with CEOs, governors, ministers, members of congress and association representatives.

Yesterday, I presided over the opening ceremony for the U.S. Pavilion with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray Lahood, Hawaii senator Daniel Inouye, Alabama senator Richard Shelby, and Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley.  More than 200 U.S. companies are displaying their innovative and forward-thinking technology here.

The U.S. aerospace industry is a strategic contributor to the economy, national security, and technological innovation of the United States The industry contributed $78 billion in export sales to the U.S. economy in 2010 and is important to achieve the goals of the President’s export initiative.

The aerospace sector in the United States supports more jobs through exports than any other industry.

Earlier today I witnessed a signing ceremony between Boeing and Aeroflot, Russia’s state-owned airline. Aeroflot has ordered eight 777s valued at $2.1 billion, and the sales will support approximately 14,000 jobs in the United States.

Resources for Aerospace Manufacturers and Their Suppliers

Shuttle Piggybacking on an Airplane

From the first thread of upholstery for seat cushions to the final gallon of paint for the exterior, American manufacturers, large and small, are contributing to the construction of an airplane. While many Americans see an airplane as one item, it is really a feat of modern engineering and planning with thousands of parts being assembled all across America to create the single airplane. In fact, according to a 2008 study by the U.S. Department of Commerce, aerospace supports more jobs through exports than any other industry.  The U.S. aerospace industry directly supports about 430,000 jobs and indirectly supports more than 700,000 additional jobs.

This week at the Paris Air Show, civil and military aircraft manufacturers and those engaged in the burgeoning space vehicle market will show off their products to buyers from all over the world. Selling internationally is vital for America to meet the President’s goal of doubling U.S. exports by 2015 in order to support millions of jobs. The aerospace industry contributed $78 billion in export sales to the U.S. economy in 2010.  The industry’s 2010 positive trade balance of $44 billion is the largest trade surplus of any manufacturing industry and came from exporting 42% of all aerospace production and 72% of civil aircraft and component production.

For manufacturers looking to break into this market, ITA has also worked with Boeing’s Supplier Management Office to produce a webinar for U.S. aerospace companies that discussed how to participate in Boeing’s global supply chain.  In addition, ITA organized a webinar with Airbus procurement officials and over 200 companies where Airbus officials discussed the company’s procurement strategy and how U.S. companies can become part of its supply chain.

For all manufacturers, ITA has the Manufacture America Initiative that connects U.S. manufacturers with resources to help them be more competitive in the global marketplace, regardless of market. Boeing has been an active participant in the Manufacture America Initiative for the aerospace industry and the MAS Aerospace Team website is full of resources and contacts for U.S. aerospace manufacturers and their suppliers.

Made in the USA – American Innovation

Richard Bogert, President and CEO, The Bogert Group

Guest blog by Richard W. Bogert, President and CEO, The Bogert Group

I grew up with the phrase “American Ingenuity” to describe the monumental accomplishments of our time. I grew up in a time that “Made in America” was the norm and made somewhere else meant inferior. We were proud to manufacture the best and supply the world. That was American Innovation and manufacturing might. We were the best at everything.

I started my company as a service business but soon realized that I was only trading hours for dollars.  I had limited myself because there are only so many hours in a day.  My income also fluctuated with the local economy. I turned to manufacturing because it was limitless and selling products on the global level insulated me from the ups and downs of my local economy. Starting with what I knew, Bogert Aviation became a FAA Certified parts manufacturer in 1986. My philosophy, “We are going to make the very best products – or we aren’t going to do it”.  Over the years we started other companies that manufacture a wide range of products. We call it the Bogert Group.  

I’ve got news for you. American Ingenuity and Innovation are alive and well. Most of the best new products and technologies have been created in the good old USA. Our young people are creative and inventive when encouraged.  We just need to create an environment that fosters innovative thought.

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Bogert transcript

Bringing and Keeping Business Investment in America

SelectUSA logo

Guest blog by Gary Locke, U.S. Secretary of Commerce. Cross-posted at the White House blog.

Business investment in America creates and supports millions of jobs, while generating economic growth and opportunities in communities throughout the United States.

Today at the Business Round Table in Washington, D.C., we announced a new initiative – SelectUSA – the first-ever government-wide program to aggressively pursue and win new business investment in the United States by both domestic and foreign companies.

America has the most appealing investment environment in the world, with the largest consumer market, an educated workforce, strong intellectual-property protections and open capital markets.

More than 5 million Americans are directly employed by foreign companies in the U.S., ranging from Japanese carmakers to British banks to Indian energy and industrial companies.

But at a time when competition for business investment is more intense than ever, the U.S. is the only developed economy in the world without a national-level investment program and advocacy program.

In recent years we have been losing ground in attracting and retaining business investment to better coordinated foreign competitors.

SelectUSA, established by Executive Order of the President, will leverage existing resources of the federal government to ramp up promotion of the U.S. as a prime investment destination to create jobs at home and to keep jobs from going overseas.

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Manufacturers Receive Presidential Award For Their Export Efforts

APS Biogroup Manufacturing Facility

Guest Blog Post by Laura Barmby, the Program Officer for the President’s "E" Awards.  In this capacity, she coordinates the submission and review of applications for this Presidential Award, working with an inter-agency committee.

Last month, Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke and Under Secretary Francisco Sánchez presented 27 U.S. companies, organizations, and institutions the President’s "E" Award for Exporting.  The "E" Award is the highest honor presented to exporters and acknowledges the significant contributions of the recipients in supporting U.S. exports.  This year marks 50 years since the establishment of the program by President Kennedy in 1961.
 
In honor of our nation’s manufacturers, I wanted to highlight for you a few of the companies that received the award this year that manufacture unique products.  What caught my attention was that this year we have three winners who took a product found in nature and improved it through a manufacturing process to make a great new product.

Here are a few things these companies have in common:

  • All take something from nature and make it into a product to support health and nutrition
  • All invest back into research and product development
  • All create jobs

Think about the jobs created by these companies:  farmers, scientists, assembly and manufacturing support, shipping, distribution, marketing.

If you have a product or service that you would like to export, visit Trade.gov to find out how to contact your nearest U.S. Export Assistance Center.  With 108 centers nationwide, exporting help is right around the corner!

Smarter Manufacturing Makes Businesses More Competitive

Sustainable Manufacturing Initiative logo

Guest blog post by Morgan Barr, an International Economist within the Manufacturing and Services division at the International Trade Administration. She works on sustainable manufacturing issues as well as negotiations for trade agreements.

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Sustainable Manufacturing Initiative (SMI) has developed tools and resources to help companies, particularly small and medium sized enterprises, implement sustainable business practices faster and more effectively. The benefits to manufacturers include lower energy and resource costs, increased marketability of products and services and lower regulatory costs and risk.

The Sustainable Manufacturing Initiative developed a number of business friendly resources that are available through its website:

  • Sustainable Business Clearinghouse - This searchable clearinghouse provides information and links to almost 900 federal and state programs and resources dedicated to supporting sustainable business practices.  It includes everything from lean and green assessments, to training, to financial assistance for green improvements.  Users can search by government or non-governmental programs, geographic location, sustainability issue, industry sector and type of assistance.
  • OECD Sustainable Manufacturing Metrics Toolkit - This toolkit provides a simplified set of core sustainability metrics for facilities and products that any company can use to both measure performance and make decisions on improvement.
  • Sustainable Manufacturing 101 Training - This training can be used to train employees anywhere in the company from purchasing to the production line. It is designed to take users through the various aspects of the practice, from energy efficiency to designing for the environment to remanufacturing. This module is currently not available, but scheduled to be completed by October 2011 and will be available on the SMI website.