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Statement from U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker on New Manufacturing Initiative

Wednesday, March 18, 2015
News Media Contact:
Office of Public Affairs, 202-482-4883

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today issued a statement announcing two new Commerce Department actions focused on strengthening American manufacturing. The first is a joint White House supply chain innovation report, which highlights the increasingly important role small and medium sized manufacturers play in creating and retaining manufacturing jobs and investment in the United States. The second is a public-private partnership competition aimed at further supporting small manufacturers. 

“The Obama Administration is committed to strengthening American manufacturing, a key component to our economic recovery. The United States has added 877,000 manufacturing jobs since February 2010, the fastest and strongest growth since the 1990s. Our small manufacturing firms have played an important role in this recovery, and as today's report by the Department of Commerce shows, form the backbone of U.S. supply chains. Strengthening our supply chains is critical to ensuring the long-term competitiveness of U.S. manufacturers of all sizes.
“In order to boost manufacturing, we need to do more to provide the necessary resources and tools these small businesses need to employ the latest technologies to succeed and compete. That is why strengthening manufacturing is a key priority of the Commerce Department’s ‘Open for Business Agenda.’ We will continue to make investments that keep our manufacturing sector on the cutting edge of innovation, which is driving our economy and creates new growth industries and jobs.”
The two manufacturing initiatives announced today include the following:
Supply Chain Innovation Report
The Commerce Department’s Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA) released a joint White House report today, titled “Reinvesting in America’s Supply Chain Innovation,” that explores the need to strengthen small manufacturers, which form the backbone of America’s supply chains. The report found that small manufacturers employ 42 percent – or nearly half of all U.S. manufacturing workers – up ten percentage points from their share in the 1980s. However, they are only 60% as productive as large manufacturers, in part because of unique challenges they face in adopting new technologies and processes.
The report, which is part of the White House's Supply Chain Innovation Initiative, also outlines several public-private partnerships and new federal efforts to strengthen U.S. manufacturing overall by helping address those challenges.
Manufacturing Extension Partnership Competition
The Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), part of the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST), plays an important role in supporting our nation’s small and medium-size manufacturers. The state-federal network of 60 centers and 1,200 manufacturing experts helps small manufacturers improve their production processes, upgrade their technological capabilities, and bring new products to market.
The MEP competition announced today will award nearly $320 million annually for five years – $158 million in Federal funds matched by $158 million or more in private investment – to operators in twelve states to strengthen and reinvest in the nationwide network of manufacturing expertise. Non-profits working with manufacturers in each of the twelve states will have the opportunity to compete for cooperative agreements to operate MEP centers and expand the range of production and technology acceleration services offered to small manufacturers, and help bring their products to market. Today’s announcement represents the second round of competitions as part of a multi-year plan to launch new competitions to strengthen the MEP network of centers in every state. 
President Obama launched these initiatives at Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network, an MEP affiliate in Cleveland, Ohio, today, where he also announced a $150 million public and private sector investment to launch the Revolutionary Fibers and Textiles Manufacturing Innovation Institute in Cleveland, Ohio. The new National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) institute is designed to foster pre-competitive collaboration among manufacturers, non-profits and academics in cutting-edge technologies. NNMI will help keep America on the front-lines of discovery and keep our manufacturers, businesses, and economy globally competitive in the 21st century economy.