WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown has introduced legislation that would create manufacturing innovation hubs through public-private partnerships, based on a model developed in Youngstown.
The Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing Tuesday on the bill that is sponsored by Brown, D-Ohio, and U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-M0. Brown, Blunt, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and Siemens Corp. CEO Eric Spiegle, among others, testified on the bill.
The Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act of 2013 would establish a public-private partnership among small business, industry leaders and research institutions.
“These are regional industry led hubs. They’ll leverage local expertise. They’ll work with community colleges, engineering schools, local manufacturing and business, labor unions,” Brown said Wednesday in a conference call.
In Allen County, 138 manufacturing businesses provided employment to more than 7,700 people with an average weekly wage of $1,213, according to state statistics provided by Brown’s office.
The first-ever such hub opened in August in Youngstown, Brown said, and it would be used as a model to tie together manufacturing supply chains with product development.
The idea keeps innovation and manufacturing in the same place, and in this country. Brown gave Dannon, which has the world’s largest yogurt plant in Minster, as an example of how that works.
Engineers worked with line workers to develop a more efficient, less expensive way to mold plastic cups and insert yogurt into them, Brown said he learned during a visit there.
“That took place on the shop floor,” Brown said. “Innovation and production at the same place … We do better when we work together.”
The bill would establish public-private institutes to leverage resources to bridge the gap between basic research and product development. Brown said the bill would particularly benefit a state such as Ohio, with nearly 650,000 manufacturing jobs, third most in the United States.
The United States can lead the world in advanced manufacturing, Brown said, with the proper supports. They are important because of manufacturing’s multiplier on the whole economy; for every $1 spent in manufacturing, $1.48 is added to economy, Brown said.