September 23, 2013: How to shore up innovation? More manufacturing, please.

Posted by mmcmullan on 09/23/2013

Good morning,

What’s only slightly more American than apple pie? Ingenuity.

America’s knack for innovation is what once made Philadelphia the workshop of the world, Detroit the Arsenal of Democracy, and steel towns like Gary, Indiana known as the Magic City. Innovation and production go hand in hand, we’re fond of saying. But decades of production (and the jobs that go with it) lost to overseas competition have put America’s innovative edge at risk. And that’s bad, say researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Jordan Graham at the Boston Herald has the story:

'We think there’s no task more urgent in the United States than (sic) rebuild the capabilities in the industrial ecosystem,' said Suzanne Berger, MIT professor and author of (a) book-length global manufacturing study released yesterday. 'What we need is the kind of production that will allow us to get the great ideas ... out into the world rapidly.'

Elsewhere around the web:

Detroit's automakers are turning profits four years after a government bailout, but the city’s woes are far from over. Bill Vlasic of the New York Times points out that a city once built on the backbone of the American auto industry can no longer rely on the Big Three to provide what it needs the most: jobs.

Meanwhile, negotiations on the massive Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade negotiations are lumbering toward the political-decision level, reports the Japan Times. President Obama has promised a signed, sealed, and delivered pact by the end of the year.

Back in Detroit, automakers want to make sure they benefit from upcoming trade deals like the TTP and Washington’s plans for a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership deal with the European Union. But even as they call for “an auto industry without borders,” says Gabe Nelson with Automotive News, the Big Three want to shore up protections against competitors in South Korea, China, India, and Japan -- home of the third-largest economy in the world and party to the TPP negotiations -- which has a notoriously closed auto market.

Hackers linked to the China’s People’s Liberation Army have made a hard push against American defense firms to scoop up secrets on military drones, writes the New York Times’ Edward Wong:

The hacking operation, conducted by a group called “Comment Crew,” was one of the most recent signs of the ambitions of China’s drone development program. The government and military are striving to put China at the forefront of drone manufacturing, for their own use and for export, and have made an all-out push to gather domestic and international technology to support the program.

That’s some alarming stuff. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: If you want to stop  China’s hacking, hit Beijing where it hurts: Right in the ol’ bank account.

A new tire factory is coming to Danville, Virginia, creating 120 jobs for the southside community that was once home to major textile industries. Area community colleges are preparing programs to help train a local workforce for North American Mold’s new facility, writes Richard Craver in the Winston-Salem Journal. The firm will receive a grant from the Governor's Opportunity Fund and additional fiscal support from the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission.

And now for today's most excellent Manufacturing Fact:

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