SME Public Relations
byMark C. TomlinsonExecutive Director and General ManagerSociety of Manufacturing Engineers Before AIG got its recent comeuppance on Capitol Hill and in public opinion, members of the manufacturing community, in the form of the Big Three, sat before Congress like errant schoolchildren waiting to be expelled. After several days of Congressional finger-wagging, the CEOs of Chrysler Corp. and General Motors Corp. were sent to detention while the banks got a free hall pass to run amok in the Federal Reserve. There was even a whiff of classism in the air. Somehow Wall Streets masters of the universe who created paper wealth received more help than an industry that creates real wealth by making things. Manufacturing creates wealth when your eco-conscious neighbor buys new solar panels to decrease his energy bill. Payment then goes to the store, other vendors and the manufacturer. The money continues its journey down the supply chain to other service providers, where its reinvested in companies to purchase new equipment and develop new technologies. It also pays employees — one of whom goes out to buy new solar panels — and the cycle continues. Yet, with the arrival of the $787 billion stimulus package, manufacturing was dismissed from class again when funds to boost the industry were noticeably missing from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. If our government truly wants to stimulate the economy, it has to focus on helping the country get back to making things — not simply throw money around. It all goes back to Economics 101: economic growth occurs with innovation and technological advances, both of which are deeply rooted in manufacturing. Manufacturing fundamentally improves daily life by making it brighter with energy-efficient windows; faster with high-speed rail; safer through state-of-the-art defense capabilities; easier with improved household appliances; and better with customized medical devices. It is also the source of much of our world-renowned Yankee ingenuity. Your iPhone was imagined by American innovators. Our medical manufacturing professionals created a camera that locates and dissolves clots in your arteries. Right now, engineers and scientists are working on alternative energy systems to heat your house and power your car. It is manufacturers who are fulfilling President Obamas vision for an innovation economy. Manufacturing accounts for two-thirds of the nations private-sector research and development activity. R&D isnt just about people in white lab coats conducting weird science. Its about inventions that solve problems and have the potential to create jobs. Nanotechnology, for instance, is on target to become a $3.1 trillion industry by the year 2015. As 76 million baby boomers age, medical device manufacturing is slated to become a $165 billion a year industry within the next five to 10 years. Look at it by the numbers. Manufacturing contributes $1.6 trillion or 13 percent of the countrys GDP. It also multiplies every dollar spent into an additional $1.37 of economic activity, greater than any other sector. Even today, it still keeps more than 12 million Americans working. Now that the financial sector seems to be on its way to detention hall, perhaps Washington can provide tutoring for the real source of Americas wealth – manufacturing. Here are six ways to begin:
If we want to see the economy do anything other than get a failing grade, the Obama Administration, Congress and even those left on Wall Street cannot continue to dismiss the backbone of America — manufacturing. Lets stimulate the economy by getting this country back to making things.
- Encourage innovation which can spur the economy as it leads to new products, processes and jobs.
- Recognize lean and green manufacturers who eliminate waste and use fewer resources, whether they make green products or not.
- Help the transitional workforce gain the skills needed for 21st century jobs.
- Support the small to medium-sized manufacturers that create jobs in their communities.
- Enhance the image of manufacturing so more people understand that todays manufacturing jobs are high paying, high tech, challenging and available.
- Place educational emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math so that future generations are able to maintain Americas lead in the innovation race.
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