February 11, 2013

Standing at Harper International Gillibrand Announces “Made in America Manufacturing Act” to Bolster High-Tech Manufacturing in New York

Gillibrand’s First Bill In New Congress Encourages States and Regions to Design Best Strategies to Boost Advanced Manufacturing Sectors, Close America’s Skills Gap

Buffalo, NY – Standing at Harper International, a Lancaster manufacturer that produces high-tech thermal processing solutions, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced that the first piece of legislation she introduced in the 113th Congress is a federal funding competition that encourages states and regional public-private partnerships to design and implement comprehensive strategies that spur growth for local manufacturing industries, particularly in the thriving fields of clean-tech and high-tech manufacturing, and that train workers with the skills that businesses need.

 

New York State has been crippled by manufacturing employment loss, with over 123,000 manufacturing jobs lost since 2005. In Western New York, an estimated 17,600 manufacturing jobs were lost from 2005 to 2010, including more than 10,700 jobs lost in Erie County. However, Western New York has seen growth in the high-tech industry, adding over 3,400 jobs from 2004 to 2008.

 

To bolster more growth in New York manufacturing, Gillibrand’s bill, called the Made in America Manufacturing Act, would create a competitive program that awards states and regions with funding to support local manufacturers through low-interest loans to build new facilities and upgrade equipment, and access to capital and technical assistance to develop exporting opportunities and to connect innovative small suppliers with larger companies. Funding would also go towards job training and vocational education programs that partner businesses with colleges, local workforce centers and other skill providers to prepare workers for manufacturing jobs.

 

“It’s time to see ‘Made In America’ again starting right here in New York,” said Senator Gillibrand.  “I believe New York’s great manufacturing communities are well positioned to compete for funding that would help carry out their innovative ideas to spark more growth in high-tech manufacturing sectors, jumpstart new businesses, and create good-paying jobs right here where we need them the most.”

“In her proposed legislation, Senator Gillibrand has hit on two crucial elements that must happen simultaneously – revitalizing American manufacturing through investment and public-private partnership, and making sure that when that effort is successful there’s a pipeline of workforce to support that success,” said Craig W. Turner, vice president of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership. “The 2,000 employer members of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership support the Senator’s forward-thinking proposal, and look forward to working with her office to bring it to fruition.”

 

“I commend Senator Gillibrand on her introduction of the Made in America Act,” said Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz. “The Act is exactly the type of legislation we need to not only spur new manufacturing in the U.S., but help current manufacturers address the ever growing workforce development skills gap by investing in job training programs so our workers can compete with the latest global technology. I call on all members of Congress to support this measure, and once again, thank Senator Gillibrand for introducing a truly important program to address our manufacturing decline.”

 

 “As a small business manufacturing in the U.S. to serve global customers in a highly technical market, we are pleased to help Senator Gillibrand celebrate this initiative that supports companies like ours who are focused on growing US jobs, from manufacturing to R&D,” said Chuck Miller, President of Harper International. “We try to do our part to help strengthen the supply chain and manufacturing base in the western New York area, and the investment in workforce and research promoted by this Act will also yield tremendous benefits for American competitiveness on an even broader scale. Initiatives such as this are key to support the manufacturing sector’s goal to accelerate technical advancement to garner maximum value.”

 

In an effort to boost manufacturing, particularly in advanced manufacturing sectors such as nanotechnology, biotechnology, and aerospace, Senator Gillibrand’s first piece of legislation introduced in the new Congress would award up to $20 million in competitive funding for each statewide or regional manufacturing hub. 

 

The Made in America Manufacturing Act would allow localities to use funding to: 

 

Set up a revolving loan fund to help manufacturing businesses expand or establish new manufacturing operations. According to a Commerce Department report, the lack of available capital to manufacturers has especially restricted the ability of many small manufacturers to grow and compete.  Without equipment upgrades and expansions, New York’s manufacturing sector will continue to lose its competitive edge in the global economy.

 

In an effort to retool New York manufacturers to be more competitive and create new jobs, the revolving loan fund would provide manufacturers with direct access to low-interest loans that are below market rate to construct new facilities or to retool, retrofit or expand existing plants, including equipment, infrastructure or energy efficiency upgrades. The federal investment could also help leverage matching funds from the private sector and other non-federal sources. 

 

Create job training programs to help address the skills gap faced by our manufacturers. By working with community colleges, vocational education programs and job training providers to tailor education and training programs to the skill needs of manufacturers, this program will focus on strategies that train workers for the jobs of the future, and creating more good-paying manufacturing jobs right here in the U.S.  

 

According to a 2011 survey by the Manufacturing Institute, more than 600,000 manufacturing jobs went unfilled due to a shortage of skilled workers. A 2012 survey noted that one-third of small businesses struggled to recruit employees with the needed education and training. Gillibrand’s Made in America program would ensure federal funds are invested in job training partnerships to help directly meet the needs of local manufacturers. 

 

Provide capital and technical assistance to boost exporting opportunities for manufacturers through supporting research and analysis of markets and countries with the greatest potential for expanding business as well as connecting innovative small manufacturers with larger companies as a supplier or to take advantage of government or private sector contracts.

 

New York organizations including the Manufacturers Association of Central New York (MACNY), CenterState CEO, the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, Insyte Consulting, and High Tech Rochester support Gillibrand’s legislation. National groups such as AFL-CIO, United Steelworkers, and the American Small Manufacturers’ Coalition also support the bill. 

 

Under Gillibrand’s bill, successful applicants would be required to form a partnership board of key stakeholders including county and local governments, small and large manufacturers, labor organizations, higher education institutions, workforce training centers, and local chambers of commerce to pool state or regional resources and develop a strategy to expand opportunities for local manufacturing, spur job creation, and close the skills gap that has slowed the growth of many manufacturers.

 

The Commerce and Labor Departments will evaluate applicants’ plans, also known as Manufacturing Enhancement Strategies, based on how the strategy will improve U.S. competitiveness and the expected economic return on investment, including job creation, cost savings by manufacturers, private investment that federal funding would help leverage, and how the proposal would address high unemployment and mass layoffs. Priority would be given to proposals that commit private sector and state or local matching funds and contributions on a one-to-one basis. The Departments would then work with winning localities to implement their plans.