This week, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker met with the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP) Steering Committee 2.0 and the Manufacturing Council to discuss issues affecting the health of America’s manufacturing industry, including progress on the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) .
In his 2013 and 2014 State of the Union Addresses, President Obama called for the creation of a nationwide network devoted to innovating and scaling-up advanced manufacturing technologies and processes to create good paying jobs and spur economic growth. These efforts, known as the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) consist of regional hubs, bringing together companies, universities, community colleges, and government to accelerate the development and adoption of cutting-edge manufacturing technologies for making new, globally competitive products. The President has asked Congress to authorize a one-time $1 billion investment—to be matched by private and other non-federal funds—to create an initial network of up to 15 hubs. Over the span of 10 years, he has proposed building out NNMI to encompass 45 such hubs.
Significant progress has already been made to accelerate the development of the NNMI. In January, President Obama announced  the selection of the Next Generation Power Electronics Manufacturing Innovation Institute, headquartered at North Carolina State University, to lead a manufacturing innovation institute for next generation power electronics. It is focused on enabling energy-efficient, high-power electronic chips and devices by making wide bandgap semiconductor technologies cost-competitive with current silicon-based power electronics. President Obama also announced two additional institutes in February – the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute, headquartered in Chicago, and the Lightweight and Modern Metals Manufacturing Innovation Institute, headquartered in the Detroit area. These announcements build on the NNMI pilot – the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, now known as America Makes – launched in August 2012 in Youngstown, Ohio .
In addition, Dr. Pat Gallagher, National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) Director performing the duties of the deputy secretary, spoke at ASME’s 2014 Engineering Public Policy Symposium yesterday. Dr. Gallagher talked about the importance of NNMI as an innovation investment to ensure American competitiveness abroad. He also stressed the Commerce Department’s commitment to NNMI – a vision of institutes with regional focus and national impact – as part of efforts to catalyze the resurgence of American manufacturing.
A few weeks ago, Secretary Pritzker also attended a “fly-in” at the White House with about 50 manufacturing leaders from around the country. She emphasized NNMI as a smart investment of taxpayer dollars that has the potential to bring an incredible return on investment and strengthen U.S. competitiveness for decades to come. She also discussed the need for legislation to fund the NNMI, as well as the President’s commitment in his FY15 budget to increase funding for programs like the National Institute for Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Manufacturing Extension Partnership .
The Commerce Department is dedicated to supporting the United States’ advanced manufacturing sector. By partnering with the private sector, educational and research institutions, and federal, state, and local governments, the Department will continue its efforts to foster a more innovative society that leads to a steady stream of new jobs and opportunities and continues to make the United States a magnet for manufacturing.