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Equipment makers seek national manufacturing strategy

Strategy calls for creation of National Institute of Manufacturing and chief manufacturing officer post to raise profile of manufacturing in federal government.

The Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) is calling on the federal government to develop and implement a comprehensive national strategy for manufacturing to strengthen the economy, create new jobs and opportunities and ensure that the U.S. is the best place in the world for equipment manufacturers to innovate, manufacture and do business. Ensuring the future of equipment manufacturing -- and manufacturing overall -- especially during these difficult times, should be a national priority and one that will require a more coordinated and efficient effort from the entire federal government, AEM said in a statement.

“The federal government should take strong and immediate action to support equipment manufacturers, protect the 2.8 million jobs that they support and guarantee the viability of an industry that is essential to the economic and national security of our country as well as our way of life,” AEM president Dennis Slater said. “Between rising manufacturing costs and the industry’s growing skills gap, not to mention the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on communities across the country, it is imperative that our elected officials mobilize the full force of the federal government in support of the country’s manufacturing sector.”

To confront both the short-term and the long-term challenges facing the equipment manufacturing industry, AEM is urging Congress and the Trump Administration to develop and carry out a national strategy to revitalize America’s manufacturing sector and ensure that the country remains the global manufacturing superpower. Specifically, AEM is urging the federal government to consider the following:

  • Creating a national institute that would serve as a hub for all federal manufacturing programs in the Executive Branch and coordinate federal manufacturing policy across agencies;
  • Establishing a chief manufacturing officer post reporting directly to the President of the U.S. and responsible for developing and carrying out the national manufacturing strategy, and
  • Forming a National Manufacturing Council to provide nonpartisan advice to the President on how to strengthen the manufacturing sector and ensure the future competitiveness of U.S. manufacturing in the global economy.

There are presently 58 manufacturing-related programs across nearly a dozen federal agencies, which makes it needlessly difficult and expensive for them to carry out their missions and impossible to estimate total federal investment in manufacturing. A coordinated national effort, including the new national institute, along with the chief manufacturing officer and the National Manufacturing Council, would significantly raise the profile of manufacturing in the federal government, increase efficiencies and collaboration across existing federal manufacturing programs, reduce wasteful spending and improve the ability and accountability of the federal government to respond to rapid changes in the global manufacturing landscape, AEM explained.

“It is imperative that our elected officials recognize that a strong equipment manufacturing industry is key to the future prosperity and long-term competitiveness of the United States,” said Jeff Reed, president and chief executive officer of Reed International and chair of the AEM board of directors. “A comprehensive national strategy for manufacturing would not only eliminate redundancies and improve efficiencies across the federal government but would focus all efforts on one single objective: the future of manufacturing in this country.”

A legislative proposal by Sen. Gary Peters (D., Mich.) would achieve the objectives of the proposed national strategy for manufacturing, and AEM is working with Peters to ensure that the legislation utilizes current program funding and personnel to dramatically improve efficiencies and reduce redundancies in existing federal manufacturing programs, reduces onerous and ineffective regulations and attracts broad, bipartisan support.

AEM is encouraging other trade associations and business groups to join it in working with the federal government to develop and implement a comprehensive national strategy for manufacturing. AEM said its initial recommendations are meant to be a starting point for a broader dialogue about how to ensure the country’s global leadership in manufacturing and guarantee the long-term economic and national security of the U.S.

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