A bipartisan effort to bolster the country's manufacturing sector passed the House in mid September, and as of early October is awaiting action by the Senate. The Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act of 2013 (RAMI) calls for the creation of a network of regional institutes across the country, along the lines of the “manufacturing hub” pilot project launched by the Obama administration in Ohio.
The bill was introduced in the House by Representatives Tom Reed (R-NY) and Joe Kennedy (D-MA), and in the Senate by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Roy Blunt (R-MO). The intent of the legislation is to expand our ability to compete for advanced manufacturing jobs by investing in manufacturing technologies and capabilities. The planned institutes would bring together companies and universities, supported by Federal agencies, to co-invest in world-leading manufacturing technologies and workforce capabilities.
The bill's sponsors apparently recognize that America’s manufacturing sector is critical to an innovation economy that supports a strong and growing middle class. After a decade of decline, the manufacturing sector has added 515,000 jobs since the beginning of 2010, and adding bipartisan government support can help insure the growth of a U.S. manufacturing renaissance. This legislation would fund the institutes with up to an initial $600 million investment channeled through the National Institute of Standards and Technology. However, the funding expires after 7 years; the institutes would then have to arrange for private-sector funding
According to Rep. Reed's office, he and Rep. Kennedy see the legislation as a way to re-establish the United States as the global leader in manufacturing. Each institute will be focused on a unique technology, material, or process relevant to advanced manufacturing. Comprised of local industry, academia and other stakeholders, the institutes would work to (1) expand research and development, (2) close the gap between R&D and commercialization of products, (3) support small and mid-sized manufacturers, and (4) train a top-tier advanced manufacturing workforce.
“We’re thrilled to have such overwhelming bipartisan support for our bill to create high-tech, high-paying manufacturing jobs for Americans,” said Congressman Reed. “These are the kinds of jobs that will give generations to come the opportunity to create and innovate right here at home – not across the ocean. Americans need something to come together on, something to unite around to fight for jobs. RAMI is that uniting initiative. The nation as a whole will benefit from the skilled workforce, innovative manufacturers and some of the best education and research institutes in the country that RAMI brings together. The House passage of this bill is the result of bipartisan partnership and countless input from industry leaders and colleagues on both sides of the aisle."