Legislation Would Create Permanent Program to Put Designated “Manufacturing Communities” in Front of the Line to Receive Federal Economic Development Funding; Existing Program Supports Manufacturing in Peoria, Chicago Areas
WASHINGTON –(ENEWSPF)–February 9, 2016. U.S. Senators Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) today introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to boost American manufacturing. This legislation would grow the manufacturing industry across the country by creating a permanent program that designates local regions as “Manufacturing Communities,” which would put them in the front of the line to receive federal economic development funding specifically for the purpose of investing in manufacturing. Representatives David Cicilline (D-R.I.), Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.), Tom Reed (R-N.Y.), Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), John Katko (R-N.Y.) and Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) introduced companion legislation in the House.
Two Illinois communities – the Peoria and Chicago areas – are among the 24 designated “Manufacturing Communities” under the current program. The U.S. Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership supports the Greater Peoria Economic Development Council, which includes five Central Illinois counties, in efforts to strengthen the region’s manufacturing industry and the earthmoving sector in particular. According to the EDA, 15 percent of workers in the Peoria region are employed in manufacturing, and 70 percent of the area’s manufacturing jobs are in the earthmoving industry.
The program also supports the Chicago Metro Metal Consortium, a partnership of more than 20 Chicago-area organizations, cities and counties led by the Cook County Bureau of Economic Development, to expand the region’s metals industry, strengthen transportation infrastructure and improve coordination of research and innovation among national labs (including Argonne and Fermilab) and universities through digital manufacturing center UI Labs. According to the EDA, more than 3,700 metal and machining firms employ over 100,000 workers in the region.
“As home to many of our nation’s key manufacturing hubs, Illinois is poised to grow our skilled workforce and add to our legacy of innovation,” Senator Kirk said. “By breaking down barriers to investment and better leveraging public-private investment, we can build on successes in Peoria and Chicago and open new doors for manufacturing communities like Rockford.”
“New York has one of the greatest manufacturing traditions in the country, and we need to help ensure that our local communities have the chance to become leading national manufacturing hubs in the 21st Century,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This bipartisan legislation will help unlock millions of dollars in federal economic development funds for smart investments in high impact projects and leverage public-private partnerships to help create good-paying manufacturing jobs, jumpstart new businesses, and grow our economy for years to come.”
“Representing a state that is home to nearly 3,200 aviation and manufacturing businesses, I know firsthand the importance of investing in jobs and manufacturing right here in the United States,” Sen. Moran said. “This legislation would help stimulate the Kansas economy and create jobs for Kansans by empowering ‘manufacturing communities’ throughout the state to receive federal economic development funding. Investing in manufacturing will help make certain our state can continue to build quality products for export and stay competitive in the global marketplace.”
“This bipartisan measure will put Connecticut at the front of the line for critical federal funding for focused direct investment in its thriving manufacturing sector. Our aerospace and shipbuilding industries are already fueling growth in high-skilled, high-paying jobs through Hartford’s Advance Manufacturing Communities Region, and this public-private partnership will spur more research, innovation and economic opportunity,” said Senator Blumenthal.
“Manufacturing has enormous power to create jobs, foster innovation, and drive America’s continued economic recovery.” said Senator Coons. “Helping support manufacturing in Delaware and across the country has been a top priority since my first day in the Senate. That is why I’m pleased to support this important bill.”
To bolster more growth in the American manufacturing industry, this bill would create a permanent program to competitively award regions with the “Manufacturing Community” designation. This designation would give these communities preferred consideration when applying for up to $1.3 billion in currently available federal economic development funding for manufacturing. This legislation encourages a regionally-driven approach to strengthening the manufacturing industry. To compete for funding through this program and earn the “Manufacturing Communities” designation, communities would create regional partnerships with key stakeholders such as local and state economic development officials, local governments, manufacturers, labor organizations, and higher education or other training providers.
In order to earn the Manufacturing Communities designation, communities would demonstrate the significance of manufacturing in their region and develop strategies to utilize their “Manufacturing Communities” designation in making investments in six areas:
- Workforce training and retraining;
- Advanced research;
- Infrastructure and site development;
- Supply chain support;
- Promotion of exports and foreign direct investment; and
- Operational improvement and capital access for manufacturers that supports energy or process efficiency, equipment or facility upgrades, the development of business incubators, among other activities.
- A current Administration program has launched 24 “Manufacturing Communities” around the country. This proposal will make this program permanent, allowing existing communities the opportunity to continue to implement their manufacturing strategies, and allowing new communities the opportunity to receive a designation.
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