Manufacturing sits down at the roundtable in Michigan
Last week, local, state and federal officials gathered in Flint, Michigan -– home of the Chevy Volt’s engine –- to talk manufacturing.
The event, dubbed Flint’s Manufacturing Community Roundtable, got some serious turnout. On hand were nine Michigander mayors, President Obama’s “car czar,” and a U.S. senator. So you best believe that Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) Field Coordinators Rachel Bennett Steury and Meghan McKeefry were in town to hear the politico prognostications regarding the economic sector that built the American middle class.
Here’s a quick rundown of quotes from the movers-and-shakers:
Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint) took the opportunity to back the Make it in America Initiative, a handful of policy proposals put forth by House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer.
But Kildee went a step further: American manufacturing suffers from bad trade deals that “pit our country against countries with labor, environmental standards that are weak or non-existent,” the congressman said. “Monetary policies overseas also undermine our competitiveness.” We're with you, Kildee -– and if you are, too, you can send your representative in Washington a letter that says so, by clicking right here.
Jay Williams, executive director of the Department of Labor’s Office for Recovery for Auto Communities and Workers, said the data was proof-positive that the U.S. needs a manufacturing policy. “Manufacturing has 22-percent higher wages than other sectors of the economy,” he told the group.
Mathy Stanislaus, an official with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), announced the release of the Roadmap for Auto Community Revitalization, a set of best practices local officials can use to cleanup old industrial properties, revive manufacturing and improve infrastructure. Cities like Flint, Stanislaus said, can use the document as a way to structure their redevelopment efforts.
“Automotive sites are assets to recapture jobs, foster economic revitalization and pave the way to a more prosperous future for local communities,” he explained.
And the keynote speaker, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, put a positive spin Michigan’s economic development efforts in Michigan.
"I think its excellent, first of all, that the Obama Administration is continuing to focus on manufacturing. The EPA is leading the effort here," said Stabenow. "Doing it in Flint is perfect. This is home of the automotive industry, and really where the middle class was born and now being reborn."
A day after announcing matching federal funding for Michigan’s locally administered jobs training program, Stabenow thanked the President for his manufacturing-heavy State of the Union address. Oh, how long ago that seems!
But all in all? Not a bad day in Flint. Let's hope the talk of manufacturing momentum in Michigan turns into tangible, jobs-creating results.
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