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Mark has been writing his Mark: My Word column every month since January, 1981.
Simple, clear and powerful may be the best way to characterize The Manufacturing Mandate first put forth in 2009 by AMT. The mandate is a compelling proposal for a new industry-government partnership to rebuild the U.S. manufacturing base. It’s been re-issued in an updated version.
Last month’s International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) in Chicago highlighted the importance of manufacturing as a vibrant, growing component in our economy. It was also a reminder that investment in new technology is not the only factor needed to strengthen and revitalize U.S. manufacturing. A national strategy that establishes and sustains a collaborative infrastructure in support of manufacturing is also essential.
With an extremely important national election just weeks away, this is a good time to re-examine the commitment both political parties are making to support manufacturing, and take this into account when choosing our elected leaders. Regardless of which candidate prevails, I’m sure the need for constant and consistent pressure to live up to promised support will be necessary.
The Manufacturing Mandate provides a sharp focus for applying that pressure effectively. The message of the mandate is worth reviewing. You can download the full document at amt-online.org, and I highly recommend that you do so.
Here is an outline of its three-point basis:
Incentivize R&D and innovation in new products and manufacturing technologies.
• Increase the R&D tax credit and make it permanent.
• Increase R&D funding targeted for sustaining economic growth technologies.
• Leverage existing manufacturing infrastructure to increase collaboration and accelerate the rate of commercialization.
Increase global competitiveness.
• Restore certainty through tax and regulatory reform.
• Support fair and open trade in which all parties play by the same rules.
• Modernize outdated export control and visa policies.
Educate and train a “Smartforce.”
• Support grants, scholarships and academic challenges for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs.
• Implement national manufacturing skills certifications.
• Create “2 Plus” Manufacturing Technology degree programs at community colleges and universities emphasizing industry-based internships.
Re-issuing this mandate should also be taken as a personal call to action. Individual shop owners have to be involved in a grassroots effort to implement this strategy. Contacting a local community college to explore opportunities for cooperation is a good first step to consider. Find out how you can create intern positions, perhaps as part of a re-imagined apprenticeship program.
Keep this mandate in mind as you evaluate candidates and probe their platforms. And follow through by making it to the polls next month.