Obama to unveil $1-billion national manufacturing initiative

March 2, 2012

President Barack Obama included a $1-billion national manufacturing initiative in his administration's FY2013 budget submission to Congress, according to Manufacturing & Technology News. The proposal would create a private-public partnership program aimed at commercializing and manufacturing U.S.-developed technologies.

The news source reported that the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI), that is modeled after the German Fraunhofer Institutes, would be a joint program between the Departments of Defense and Energy, the National Science Foundation and the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology.

According to the budget submission, the goal of the effort would be to "revitalize U.S. manufacturing. . . through a network of institutes where researchers, companies and entrepreneurs can come together to develop new manufacturing technologies with broad applications."

Each of the institutes would focus on a specific sector of technology and would support the ecosystem of local manufacturers, develop skilled workers and shift the focus to the commercialization of technology. This would work "by helping to bridge the gap from the laboratory to the market and address core gaps in scaling manufacturing process technologies," the budget submission said, according to Manufacturing & Technology News.

This effort represented the growing move by the Obama administration to support U.S. manufacturing through research and capital investment from the government. According to the Department of Energy (DOE), the president touted the DOE's cost-cutting Industrial Assessment Program, which supports university-based Industrial Assessment Centers (IAC) across the country.

These IACs provide students in the U.S. with critical skills and training to conduct energy assessments in a broad range of facilities, while at the same time producing real cost savings for small to mid-size manufacturers. These assessments have already helped participating manufacturers save more than $5.6 billion in energy costs.

"As President Obama made clear, an American economy built to last will depend on American manufacturing, American energy and skills for American workers," said U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu. "This is why the Energy Department invests in innovative initiatives like the Industrial Assessment Centers that help to train the clean energy workforce of tomorrow, while cutting energy waste for American businesses and making our manufacturing companies more competitive."

This helps to save manufacturers money, allowing them to adjust their business strategy to put capital into other areas. According to Manufacturing & Technology News, the sector is in the midst of a revitalization and programs sponsored by the government help to provide infrastructure that will remain supportive for companies in the U.S.