U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Discusses State of Innovation and Manufacturing in Detroit


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Secretary Pritzker visits the Shinola watch and leather factory in Detroit
Secretary Pritzker met with manufacturing employee at the Shinola factory in Detroit, MI. As the first company in decades to produce watches at scale in America, Shinola’s nearly 12,000-square-foot facility includes an in-house leather factory, employing 50 professionally trained leather makers, and 400 employees total in Detroit. Shinola has pioneered an in-house training process to transition unskilled workers into fine watchmakers.

On June 3, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker traveled to Detroit, Michigan to discuss the state of innovation and manufacturing in Michigan with several local companies, including Shinola, GM, Mcity, and Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow (LIFT).

For the first time since the 1990s, the number of American factories is on the rise. The number of manufacturing jobs has risen dramatically during the recession, and manufacturing companies are advertising more than 300,000 unfilled jobs. Few expected the steady strong resurgence in manufacturing that has grown the sector by more than 830,000 jobs over the past six years.

This growth in our manufacturing sector is strongly tied to the ability of U.S. companies to innovate. Manufacturers account for 75 percent of private sector research and development and receive roughly 70 percent of all patents issued.

During her visit, Secretary Pritzker toured Shinola, a company specializing in American built products such as watches, bicycles, leather goods, and journals. Shinola is an example of manufacturing as an innovative and inventive business where workers develop and use the latest technology.

Secretary Pritzker learned more about the latest efforts in Connected and Autonomous Vehicles when she visited the GM headquarters and Mcity, a test facility designed by the University of Michigan’s Mobility Transformation Center that evaluates the capabilities of connected and automated vehicles and systems led by the University of Michigan.

Secretary Pritzker also visited Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow (LIFT), a public-private partnership focused on developing and deploying advanced lightweight materials manufacturing technologies, and implementing education and training programs to prepare the workforce. While there, she viewed demos from local startups that showcase the latest technology in mobility and hosted a roundtable with local startups, private sector leaders, public universities, and public sector leaders including Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-12), Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-14), and Rep. Sander Levin (D-9).

LIFT is a member of the Obama Administration’s National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI), a bold initiative undertaken to maintain America’s leadership and competitiveness in the manufacturing sector born from the idea that working together, the public sector, academia, nonprofits, and the private sector could create and produce cutting-edge technology more effectively than any one of them alone.

Secretary Pritzker’s visit to Detroit today provided a forum to discuss the opportunities and challenges surrounding innovation in the manufacturing sector for the region and discuss how the Department of Commerce can continue supporting manufacturing companies in their efforts as “America’s Innovation Agency.”

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Last updated: 2018-02-25 04:40

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