For too long, the United States has lost its footing as a leader in industrial innovation. Our manufacturing processes, once cutting-edge, are fundamentally outdated. While industry has worked for decades to globalize supply chains, the United States has seemingly outsourced innovation at the same time, creating policies and incentives awarding these actions. In order to stem the tide of innovative regression, we must act and create policies and programs to support home-grown innovation. The United States must step up and lead at this moment, and must pass into law the Office of Manufacturing & Industrial Policy Act.
Introduced on the House floor in late March, and backed by the AFL-CIO and the National Association of Manufacturing, among many others, the bipartisan bill will “establish the Office of Manufacturing and Industrial Innovation Policy and strategic national manufacturing policy for the United States.” The bill would establish a chief manufacturing officer to provide manufacturing and industrial perspective and advice directly to the president, and would allow for “cross administration management of efforts to ensure global leadership in manufacturing critical to the long-term economic health and national security of the United States.”
The National Economic Council can help provide historical precedent for the successes of such a position. Established under President Bill Clinton in 1993 to put the nation’s economic priorities at the forefront of federal policymaking, successive directors have advised both Republican and Democratic administrations on U.S. and global economic policy. Similar to the NEC director, the CMO would report directly to the president, be based in the White House and have significant interagency and external stakeholder input to provide the widest range of policy support.
Worldwide, manufacturing is changing rapidly. While manufacturing has fallen as a percentage of gross domestic product to below 11 percent, it is by no means gone in this country. The global pandemic has shown the need to provide resiliency in our supply chains, and has highlighted the strength of being able to call upon the American worker in times of crisis. As the onshoring movement shifts from being an ideal of the future to the reality of the now, the United States has a chance to both bring jobs back to our shores and define ways in which we will lead in an interconnected global supply chain.
Further, investments in manufacturing are among the most profitable we can make in our country. For every dollar spent on manufacturing, $2.74 is returned to the economy, according to the National Association of Manufacturers, and 40 percent of the foreign direct investment in the United States is driven by manufacturing. Simply working to replace manufacturing jobs we’ve lost to globalization means the country will be looking backward; the economy of the next century means we must look forward. We must empower a CMO to look to smart manufacturing to build a more sustainable industry and future.
The United States must be a leader in the changing global manufacturing landscape, leaning on a long-term trend of innovation expertise to optimize the role our country will play in tomorrow’s global manufacturing supply chains. Gooten, and our network of U.S. manufacturing partners, representing thousands of American jobs across 23 states, support the creation of the OMII, along with continued bipartisan efforts to advance our country’s manufacturing innovation. As manufacturing is increasingly competitive and technology-driven, we agree with the bill’s assertion that “manufacturing is not just America’s legacy; it is our future.”
Brian Rainey is the chief executive officer of Gooten, a globally distributed production and logistics company that operates a smart supply chain for brands and retailers looking to reshape their eCommerce business with on-demand manufacturing.
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