By Sherrod Brown
We are a nation of builders and innovators. Harnessing that creative energy, manufacturing created a middle class that strengthened our communities and provided opportunity for countless Americans. Manufacturing helped make the middle class. In fact, manufacturing jobs have a larger multiplier effect than any other industry. For every $1.00 spent in manufacturing, another $1.48 is added to the economy.
Across Ohio, I meet with manufacturers who understand the opportunities that are being created in Ohio’s clean energy economy. Ohio has the fifth-highest number of clean energy jobs in the nation, with more than 29,000 of them in manufacturing.
Ohio’s clean energy economy is also adding jobs at a much faster rate than the state’s overall economy: the Ohio’s clean energy economy increased by 8.5 percent from 2007 to 2010, while Ohio’s economy as a whole lost nearly 350,000 jobs over the same period, a decrease of roughly 6.1 percent.
A recent report revealed that we can create jobs and revitalize our manufacturing base by investing in the clean energy economy and strengthening valuable energy programs, such as renewable energy standards and federal tax credits for wind and solar power. Energy we produce, or save, is energy that we do not have to buy from foreign sources. And our global competitors understand this.
That’s why other nations – including China – are taking big steps in advanced and renewable energy. In fact, China now has the world’s largest renewable energy capacity. Yet with this increased capacity, we are witnessing Chinese efforts to play by their own rules and give their businesses an unfair advantage. We all know that trade with China poses big challenges and opportunities for U.S. producers.
I’ve worked on a bipartisan basis to urge the Obama Administration to take stronger trade enforcement measures, to respond to the challenges of Chinese subsidies. But trade enforcement alone is not enough.
That’s why Senator Blunt and I introduced the bipartisan Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act of 2013. It would create a Network for Manufacturing Innovation – to position the U.S. as the world’s leader in advanced manufacturing.
We do better when we work together – and a Network for Manufacturing Innovation would establish a public-private partnership giving small businesses, industry leaders, and research institutions the tools they need to compete on a global scale.
These regional, industry-led hubs will leverage local expertise and will hopefully create thousands of high-paying, high-tech manufacturing jobs for next-generation workers.
In August, the first-ever National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII), now called America Makes, opened in Youngstown, Ohio. This hub is becoming a national model for tying together manufacturing supply chains with product development – something that will benefit all manufacturing sectors.
Our workers have the drive, the creative thinking, and the determination to out-innovate the rest of the world. We just need to make sure they have the tools and resources to do so – and investing in clean energy manufacturing is a step in the right direction.