Innovation

Manufacturing Makes an Appearance at First-Ever Twitter Town Hall

President Obama hosted a Twitter Town Hall yesterday to field questions from the tweeting public. (Here’s the transcript.)

In response to a question from “David,” the President touched on a number of issues that are important to manufacturers, like research and development incentives and the need for a strong manufacturing workforce.  The President, of course, recently endorsed the Manufacturing Institute’s Skills Certification System, and manufacturers continue to push for a strengthened and permanent R  & D tax credit.

Here’s the exchange:

MR. DORSEY:  Mr. President, 27 percent of our questions are in the jobs category, as you can see from the screen over here.  Our next question has to do about jobs and technology.  It comes from David:  “Tech and knowledge industries are thriving, yet jobs discussion always centers on manufacturing.  Why not be realistic about jobs?”

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, it’s not an either/or question; it’s a both/and question.  We have to be successful at the cutting-edge industries of the future like Twitter.  But we also have always been a country that makes stuff.  And manufacturing jobs end up having both higher wages typically, and they also have bigger multiplier effects.  So one manufacturing job can support a range of other jobs — suppliers and the restaurant near the plant and so forth.  So they end up having a substantial impact on the overall economy.

What we want to focus on is advanced manufacturing that combines new technology, so research and development to figure out how are we going to create the next Twitter, how are we going to create the next Google, how are we going to create the next big thing — but make sure that production is here.

So it’s great that we have an Apple that’s creating iPods, iPads and designing them and creating the software, but it would be nice if we’re also making the iPads and the iPods here in the United States, because that’s some more jobs that people can work at.

And there are going to be a series of decisions that we’ve got to make.  Number one, are we investing in research and development in order to emphasize technology?  And a lot of that has to come from government.  That’s how the Internet got formed. That’s how GPS got formed.  Companies on their own can’t always finance the basic research because they can’t be assured that they’re going to get a return on it.

Number two, we’ve got to drastically improve how we train our workforce and our kids around math and science and technology.

Number three, we’ve got to have a top-notch infrastructure to support advanced manufacturing, and we’ve got to look at sectors where we know this is going to be the future.  Something like clean energy, for example.  For us not to be the leaders in investing in clean energy manufacturing so that wind turbines and solar panels are not only designed here in the United States but made here in the United States makes absolutely no sense.  We’ve got to invest in those areas for us to be successful.

So you can combine high-tech with manufacturing, and then you get the best of all worlds.

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Patent Reform Protects Job Creators

Yesterday was a good day for manufacturers as the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed H.R. 1249, the America Invents Act, which will make the first meaningful reforms for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in nearly sixty years. “No longer will American inventors be forced to protect the technologies of today with the tools of the past,” stated Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

Additionally, as reported in Politico:

“The legislation switches America to a first-to-file from a first-to-invent nation, expands the ‘prior art’ that can be used to challenge a patent and sets up a new regime to challenge patents at the patent office. In all, the legislation is designed to make patent approval swifter and make it easier to weed out low-quality patents.”

Passage will not only help with the creation of jobs, but it will also help save jobs. This legislation will give manufacturers in the U.S. the competitive advantage they need for future investments that will achieve the technological breakthroughs and groundbreaking innovation manufacturers in the U.S are known for.

Today’s coverage of the passage of H.R. 1249

  • Politico: Patent law rewrite clears House
  • The Hill: Controversial patent reform bill approved by House
  • National Journal: Industry, Universities Praises Passage of House Patent Bill
  • CNN: Patent reform is finally on its way

 

Click here to see Brian Raymond, Director of Technology and Economic Policy at the National Association of Manufacturers discuss the importance of patent reform and the America Invents Act.

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Manufacturing Changed a Generation

On Sunday the Chillicothe Gazette in Ohio ran an op-ed (“Manufacturing changes my family — and world — for the better“)  from National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons about what manufacturing has meant to his family and what the future holds for manufacturing in the United States. 

Here is a brief excerpt from the op-ed:

During the Great Depression, my grandfather waited in line for six months for a job at the Mead paper mill. For proud Americans of my grandfather’s generation, a manufacturing job represented a promise of security, a better quality of life and a path to the middle class.

As the years passed, the growth of once-vibrant manufacturing cities slowed, in part because of the changing global economy and emerging competitors abroad. And although manufacturing means jobs — exceptionally good-paying jobs — policy-makers in our nation’s capital, Republican and Democrats alike, failed to respond.

So, as a result of Washington’s neglect and misguided policy choices, it is now 18 percent more expensive to manufacture a product in the United States than in any other country. That figure doesn’t include the cost of labor.

Now more than ever manufacturers need pro-growth policies from Washington that will enable them to create jobs and compete globally. This is why the NAM will contiue to advocate for the policies outlined in the Manufacturing Strategy for Jobs and a Competitive America to boost the competitiveness of manufacturers in the U.S.

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Toyota’s U.S. Production Recovering after Japanese Earthquake

Two months after the devastating earthquake in Japan, recovery continues. From Toyota, “Toyota to Boost North American Production Earlier Than Expected“:

ERLANGER, Ky. (May 11, 2011) – Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc. (TEMA) will boost production earlier than expected following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Beginning in June, overall North American production will reach approximately 70 percent of normal levels, up from approximately 30 percent in May.

The improvement in parts availability from Japan is the result of countermeasure activities implemented by affected suppliers. Toyota will continue to evaluate production model-by-model on a monthly basis, with a goal to return to fully normalized production by late this year.

Models returning to 100 percent production in June are Avalon, Camry, Corolla, Highlander, Matrix, Sequoia, Sienna and Venza. (continue reading…)

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Spending Bill: No Czars, But Manufacturing Extension Partnership

Searching for the word “manufacturing” in Thursday’s House floor debate on H.R. 1473, the continuing resolution, that passed by a vote of 260-167, we find first the section that eliminates funding for White House “czars.”

Sec. 2262. None of the funds made available by this division may be used to pay the salaries and expenses for the following positions:

(1) Director, White House Office of Health Reform.

(2) Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change.

(3) Senior Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury assigned to the Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry and Senior Counselor for Manufacturing Policy.

(4) White House Director of Urban Affairs.

The Detroit Free Press observes, “In the case of the car czar — actually the senior advisor to the secretary of the Treasury assigned to the Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry and senior counselor for manufacturing policy — it hardly matters: Ron Bloom, who held the job, moved to the National Economic Council earlier this year, so it’s vacant.”

On another topic, Rep. Chakah Fattah (D-PA) complimented Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), who chairs the Commerce, Science, Justice activities in the continuing resolution. From Congressinal Record, Page H2742:

Notwithstanding the very challenging fiscal circumstances, Chairman Wolf has worked towards a set of priorities that will help move our country forward, and I thank him for working with me on a bipartisan basis.

I want to point out our highest priority within that section of the Commerce Department, which is that of the Manufacturing and Extension Partnerships, which will see an increase above the 2010 enacted and also the Senate amendment, or H.R. 1. I am very pleased about that.

The Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) operates out of the National Institute for Standards and Technology, working with state partnerships to provide business planning services and technical advice to small businesses. (continue reading…)

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R&D Tax Credit: Investment, Jobs, Innovation by Manufacturers

The Department of Treasury on Friday released a new report, “Investing in U.S. Competitiveness: The Benefits of Enhancing the Research and Experimentation (R&E) Tax Credit,” with the full .pdf available here.

The report, developed to support the Obama Administration’s promotion of a permanent and stronger R&D tax credit, reaffirms the credit’s value to the U.S. economy, especially the manufacturing sector. In 2008, manufacturers claimed $5.78 billion worth of tax credits, or 69.3 percent of the total. The top three manufacturing sectors claiming the credit were:

  • Computer and electronic product manufacturing: 31.5 percent of the total claimed.
  • Chemical manufacturing: 25.9%
  • Transportation equipment manufacturing: 20.5%

The Administration proposes:

  • Making the R&E Credit Permanent. The President proposed in his FY 2012 Budget to permanently extend the R&E credit so that businesses can make investments in research projects, confident that they can benefit from the credit in the future. The President has placed a high priority on making the credit permanent, proposing this in his previous two budgets as well.
  • Increasing the Alternative Simplified Credit Rate by More than 20 Percent. While the President has previously proposed making the R&E credit permanent, the Administration now also proposes to increase the rate of the alternative simplified credit from 14 percent to 17 percent. This will provide a larger incentive to increase research and simplify the credit by encouraging firms to switch to the alternative simplified tax credit base. The Administration’s proposal maintains the current regular research credit to prevent disruption to firms that choose to continue claiming the regular research credit.

Secretary Geithner gave brief remarks Friday that mentioned the tax credit when he visited NanoMech, a nanotech-products manufacturer in Northwestern Arkansas.

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As Secretary Geithner Highlights Nanotechnology…

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is visiting an Arkansas manufacturer that specializes in nanotechnology today, using the stop at NanoMech to highlight the benefits of the R&D tax credit.

The company website (hey, a .biz domain name!) reports fascinating news about its products, including nano-engineered body armor and nano-lubricant technology. So we should expect some commentary from Secretary Geithner about the Administration’s views on nanotechnology.

We always turn to Instapundit to catch up on the latest developments in the technology and policy, and in doing so this morning, spot this post:

WELL, IT’S CAUSING A LOT OF OTHER PROBLEMS: Is policy uncertainty the cause of anemic growth in nanotechnology innovation?

Instapundit’s Glenn Reynolds links to a blog post from the Foresight Institute, which builds on a column at Nanotechnology Now from Skip Rung, president and executive director of ONAMI, the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute.

In “Getting our Groove Back in Manufacturing Innovation: Nanomaterials, Green Nanotechnology and Policy Uncertainty,” Rung writes:

Post-November 2010, Washington DC swears it recognizes how vitally important entrepreneurs and innovation are, and that regulations will be reviewed for costs vs. benefits (if you believe for even a femtosecond that anything useful will come of that, call me about investing in my new flubber company). And of course, the crowd-pleasing soundbite “staple a green card to science and engineering advanced degrees” continues to be heard from politicians of both major flavors. Anyone currently attempting to keep a key PhD employee here (rather than be sent back to China to compete with them) is thoroughly sick and tired of hearing that empty promise.

If all that and the spectacle of politicians doing everything, anything, except address the impending public insolvencies hasn’t made you suicidal, then I guess you’re like the optimist in me that says ‘policy uncertainty’ in the face of what often seems like firm determination on the part of the U.S. government to undermine its own economy.

Yeah.

Here are the other Instapundit links on nanotech posted this year. (continue reading…)

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Make R&D Tax Credit Permanent, Even in Revamped Tax Code

Bloomberg, “Treasury Department Supports Permanent Research Tax Break Even in Overhaul,” reporting on Treasury’s support for a more robust, permanent R&D Tax Credit as part of a revamped tax code.

Michael Mundaca, assistant Treasury secretary for tax policy, said that the economic benefits and high-wage jobs generated by the research credit make it worth preserving, even in a tax system with fewer targeted tax incentives.

“In a reformed system, you’d still want some incentives to be provided for research activity, and we think this is a good incentive to provide,” Mark Mazur, the department’s chief tax economist, said at a briefing with reporters in Washington yesterday.

The briefing accompanied the advance release of a new report, as reported by Reuters, “Obama tax credit will support 1 mln workers-report.”

Treasury Secretary Geithner will highlight the jobs connection when he visits a high-tech manufacturer in Northwest Arkansas today. From ArkansasBusiness.com, “NanoMech Ready for Appointment with Geithner“:

NanoMech Inc. chairman and CEO Jim Phillips grasps firmly the significance of U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner’s Friday visit to northwest Arkansas.

“He could’ve gone to the Silicon Valley, he could’ve gone to the Research Triangle,” Phillips said Thursday morning, “but he’s coming here.”

Geithner’s visit is multi-pronged. He will meet with a group of regional business leaders at the Arkansas World Trade Center and also is expected to address the release of a report detailing the economic benefits of President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2012 Budget proposal to enhance the Research & Experimentation tax credit.

NanoMech anticipates Secretary Geithner’s visit in a news release, “U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner Makes Historic Visit to NanoMech Plant in Springdale.”

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Circumnetting Goings On at the Department of Commerce

Many things worth noting at the Department of Commerce last week, including Secretary Gary Locke’s travels to Brazil with President Obama:

Commerce.gov, March 20, news release,
“Secretary Locke Tours Embrear, Encourages Increasing the Commercial Relationship Between U.S and Brazil”:

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke today encouraged stronger U.S.-Brazil commercial relations during a visit to Embraer manufacturing facility outside Sao Paulo. Embraer is a Brazilian manufacturer of commercial, general aviation, and defense aircraft. Locke toured the facility and saw firsthand how the company incorporates significant U.S. aviation content into its supply chain. He also applauded the company for it integrated supply chain and encouraged further integration with American small-medium-sized enterprises.

“Embreaer is a shining example of partnership between U.S. and Brazilian manufacturing that is a “win-win” and creates jobs in both countries,” Locke said.

According to Embraer, the company has imported over $6 billion in goods from U.S. companies over the last five years. Embraer recently opened an assembly facility in Melbourne, Fla. and currently employs 660 people in the United States at 5 facilities.

Commerce.gov, March 18, news release, “Secretary Locke Advances U.S.-Brazil Trade Relationship During Presidential Trip“:

Locke met with Fernando Pimentel, the Brazilian Minister of Development Industry and Foreign Trade to discuss ongoing cooperation on key commercial relationship issues and the short- and long-term priorities of the U.S.-Brazil CEO Forum.

Earlier in the day, Locke met with Antonio Palocci, President Dilma Rousseff’s Chief of Staff and co-chair of the U.S.-Brazil CEO forum, to discuss increased commercial engagement between the two countries. He discussed improving cooperation on Intellectual Property Rights issues with Brazilian Minister of Culture Ana de Hollanda.


Commerce.gov, March 17
, “U.S. Commerce Department Taps Chicago Business Leader to be its Liaison to the Private Sector“:

The U.S. Commerce Department today announced that Matthew T. McGuire will be joining the agency as Assistant to the Secretary and Director of the Office of Business Liaison. In this position, he will be leading the Department’s efforts to engage the business community on some of the Obama Administration’s top policy priorities, while continuing to strengthen partnerships between the public and private sectors.
(continue reading…)

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Administration Makes Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Recommendations

Today Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Coordinator (IPEC) Victoria Espinel and her team released extensive recommendations for legislative changes to ensure our intellectual property rights (IPR) laws are effective and to remedy deficiencies. Manufacturers believe these changes, some of which the NAM has been recommending for two years, will improve the enforcement of intellectual property rights.

We applaud the Administration and IPEC for their pro-active efforts to prevent the entry of counterfeit goods into domestic commerce because intellectual property is the lifeblood of American manufacturing.  We are especially pleased by the recommendation to authorize Customs to share pre-seizure information about products with right holders to help it determine if the products are counterfeit. This is a change manufacturers have sought for a long time.

Manufacturing, yes manufacturing, is as dependent on intellectual property like patents, trademarks, trade secrets, trade dress and copyrights as copyright-based industries that receive considerably more attention. Counterfeiting and piracy are existential threats to manufacturers, the people they employ, and the consumers who come in contact with their products and services. (continue reading…)

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