Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Toward an Advanced Manufacturing Policy

NASEO Annual Meeting Keynote Address Focuses on Key Role for States in Advanced Manufacturing

[from NASEO.org, Sep. 11, 2012] Ro Khanna, author of "Entrepreneurial Nation: Why Manufacturing is Still Key to America's Future" and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce, highlighted the State government and State Energy Office role in advanced manufacturing during his keynote address at the NASEO Annual Meeting on Monday, September 10. "State government is where innovation happens," explained Mr. Khanna to the audience of over 200 State and Territory Energy Officials and private sector energy representatives, "and what you're doing on energy efficiency and clean technology is vital for our economy." He stated that the federal government should partner with States to tap into the innovative public-private partnerships often initiated by State Energy Offices.

Mr. Khanna's address focused on why manufacturing is important to the U.S. economy as a bipartisan priority and how energy technologies fit into that vision. He emphasized the critical link between manufacturing design and production and the manufacturing sector's role in balancing the trade deficit. He indicated the manufacturing sector provides stable jobs with well-paying salaries and encouraged expansion of these opportunities.

On global competitiveness, Mr. Khanna referenced the array of government incentives offered to manufacturing companies in developing economies like China and Brazil. In the United States, he said, "it is only in the last 30 years that we decided that we either don't need manufacturing or that government shouldn't have a role in it." However, he noted a historic foundation for a government role based on a10-page manufacturing brief by Alexander Hamilton in 1791 that recommended the government invest with industry, develop an educated workforce, and provide tax incentives. Mr. Khanna suggested that the U.S. government improve manufacturing economic opportunities through streamlined regulations and enhanced approaches to insourcing jobs and decreasing the skills gaps.

Mr. Khanna reported that energy efficiency is still a sector in which the United States remains in the lead globally, creating 2.7 million jobs over the past two years in energy efficiency and clean technology. He said the nation should focus on promoting manufacturing that customizes products and innovates in order to retain and grow our competitive advantage.

Mr. Khanna concluded his remarks on a hopeful note about the American economy. He said while the U.S. manufacturing sector may have a history of being written off, it always succeeds based on the nation's free market economic principles, policy response, and encouragement of workforce creativity and innovation. According to Mr. Khanna, the United States possesses strategic advantages over its global competitors: a sense of "healthy skepticism" that inspires innovation and action in the manufacturing sector, private sector responsiveness to democratic institutions and process, and an encouragement of creativity and innovation in the workforce. He highlighted the importance of the State and Territory Energy Offices' efforts stating, "If we don't figure out how to increase supply of energy long-term and be more efficient in the use of energy, we will put our manufacturers at an economic disadvantage."



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