U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Delivers Remarks at the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership Summit


Thursday, October 22, 2015

Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker highlighted the role American communities are playing in the U.S. manufacturing resurgence during remarks at the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) Summit.

Run by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), IMCP is an initiative that asks leaders in a region to identify a manufacturing sector where they have a comparative advantage and draft a comprehensive, strategic course of action that prioritizes the projects and investments needed locally to grow that sector. The communities with the best plans are then eligible to receive funding from 11 different federal agencies to support the implementation of their strategy.

The two day summit gives IMCP-designated communities, applicants, and stakeholders an opportunity to exchange ideas, discuss best practices, and help forge partnerships and connections.

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Thank you, Jay, for your kind introduction and for the exceptional job you and your team do every day to spur economic development across the United States. Jay was elected mayor of Youngstown, Ohio during the most economically challenging time in its history. As his hometown’s youngest and first African American mayor, he took an innovative approach to the city’s economic development by investing in the refurbishment of manufacturing infrastructure while also creating new green spaces. When Jay received the John F. Kennedy New Frontier Award for his efforts to revitalize Youngstown, the award committee called him “a visionary leader with an eye to the future.” Frankly, Jay and I think that this statement also applies to everyone here in this room.

Each of you has created a strategic vision for your community that puts manufacturing at the center of your economic future. You recognize that the global demand for Made in America products presents tremendous opportunities to grow your local economies. As designated members of manufacturing communities, you created strategic plans that address the critical elements needed to thrive, including: well-developed and functioning supply chains; an assessment of your infrastructure needs; a strategy to expand access to capital; an inventory of operational improvements; and pathways to build a skilled workforce.

Creating those plans was not easy. You had to break down long-standing silos, combat entrenched interests, and develop a thoughtful and comprehensive approach to your economic development. You created not just a vision but an actionable, strategic plan – and as a result, you sit in a prime position to reap the long-term benefits of our country’s manufacturing resurgence. I want to commend each and every one of you for your hard work and the role you are playing in America’s manufacturing renaissance. Even though recently demand for manufactured goods has slowed a bit, I could not be more bullish about the future of American manufacturing. Let me repeat that: I could not be more bullish about the future of American manufacturing.

We know this sector is cyclical, but the long-term macro factors that drive manufacturing in the United States remain robust, including: A strong rule of law; Investment in research and development; Free trade agreements that offer unparalleled opportunities for access to the world’s fastest growing markets; A cheap and abundant energy supply; and Above all, the most productive workforce on the planet. Because of these factors, A.T. Kearney has, for multiple years in a row, named America the number one place in the world to invest. However, the communities represented here today know that plans and assets alone are insufficient. You also need partners. That is where we come in.

At the Department of Commerce, we want to be your partner in the execution of your vision. In addition to running the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership, our Economic Development Administration serves as the “lead integrator” of the various regional innovation initiatives offered across the federal government. EDA also awards grants that support the implementation of your specific plan. Our Manufacturing Extension Partnership centers connect your local manufacturers with resources and services to become more competitive, meet a new market challenge, improve production processes, adopt a new technology, or take a new good to market.

Most of you already collaborate with EDA and our MEP centers, but I want you to be aware of three additional Department of Commerce opportunities. First: Hannover Messe, the largest industrial trade fair in the world. For the first time, the German government has asked the United States to be the official “partner country” for the April 2016 event. We are inviting every state and regional economic development organization to be a part of the U.S. pavilion – where you can network with over 5,000 advanced manufacturing representatives from all over the world. I strongly encourage you to become an exhibitor, as this is an excellent opportunity for your communities to participate in a target rich environment and attract investment from international firms. You can find more information at “Hannover Messe dot D E.”

Second, President Obama has created a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation, which brings together the U.S. private sector and academia to collaborate on taking industry-relevant technologies from lab to market. These advanced manufacturing institutes are nationwide consortia focused on emerging technologies. While they might be located in a specific region, they present an opportunity for all of your communities. They are looking to expand with partners across the country that share a commitment to innovation in manufacturing.  I encourage you to attend the NNMI breakout session later today and connect with an institute.

A third opportunity to engage is the Department of Commerce’s “Skills for Business” initiative. The Departments of Commerce, Labor, and Education are working with academia, non-profits, and the private sector to better align our worker education and training programs with careers in our communities. For example, as part of our efforts to double the number of registered apprenticeships by 2020, the President recently announced $175 million in American Apprenticeship Grants to 46 public-private partnerships, including several IMCP communities. If your community did not receive one of these grants, I urge you to use today’s networking sessions to learn more about integrating the apprenticeship model into your strategic plans.

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of attending one of our more than 2500 Manufacturing Day events and visited M. Davis and Sons, an industrial equipment manufacturer located in Wilmington, Delaware.  Most of the employees told me they knew as early as 7th grade that their interests lay in engineering or manufacturing and in making things. Instead of a traditional course of high school to college to a career, these workers chose to attend technical high schools and pursue additional skills at community colleges. Today, those young people have great careers with incomes that allow them to own their homes and provide for their families – all with no college debt.

The workers I met at M. Davis were excited about their careers, enthusiastic about their daily work, and loved making things. What more could an American worker want than a fulfilling career that supports a stable, prosperous life? That is the American dream. That opportunity is what you are giving the people in your communities. Thank you for being here, and thank you for betting on manufacturing.

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Last updated: 2015-10-22 13:21

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