Advance Notice: Briefs

Peters wants national manufacturing policy

By: - June 21, 2019 1:03 pm

Gretchen Whitmer at GRCC’s tech campus, Feb. 13, 2019 | Nick Manes

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Twp.) says he has a plan to boost American manufacturing.

The first-term senator — who’s now facing a challenge from Republican businessman John James — this week announced plans to establish what he’s calling a National Institute of Manufacturing. Doing so would help the country craft a national policy around manufacturing and make the nation more competitive with countries like China and South Korea, Peters said in a statement.

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters | Michael Gerstein photo

“In Michigan, our automakers, parts suppliers, and advanced manufacturers have worked hard to harness transformative technologies and the opportunities they present,” Peters said.

“They are constantly innovating, finding ways to make goods faster, lighter, more efficient and more affordable,” he continued. “But to keep up in an increasingly competitive global marketplace, this broad and dynamic industry needs a comprehensive national strategy backed by strong policy guidelines and sustained federal investments – to take advantage of emerging opportunities and retain our position as a world leader in manufacturing.”

Speaking with the Advance in January during the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Peters said he believed that lack of a comprehensive, national manufacturing policy was at least part of why companies like General Motors were moving some production overseas.

Peters said that the policy would need to address “the needs for skilled labor and provide the training opportunities for folks to have the necessary skilled labor [and] provides the capital structure necessary for those investments to be made.”

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The proposed institute would serve as a central hub for the federal government’s various existing manufacturing programs and better allow them to work together, according to Peters’ office.

The proposal has the support of multiple stakeholders in Michigan’s $96 billion manufacturing industry, who share the senator’s sentiment that implementation could help bring more industry back to the state.

“[Peters’] proposed National Institute of Manufacturing is a critical missing piece needed to bridge the gap between research and manufacturing to create national wealth and security,” Sridhar Kota, Herrick Professor of Engineering at the University of Michigan, said in a statement. “It’s an opportunity to boost innovation, establish high-quality production jobs and industries of the future on our shores.”

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Nick Manes
Nick Manes

Nick Manes is a former Michigan Advance reporter, covering West Michigan, business and labor, health care and the safety net. He previously spent six years as a reporter at MiBiz covering commercial real estate, economic development and all manner of public policy at the local and state levels.