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Obama Acts to Expand Manufacturing Innovation Centers

Posted By David Brousell, February 13, 2013 at 12:15 PM, in Category: Industrial Policy

President Obama has announced that he will take executive action to create three new manufacturing innovation institutes this year, building on a pilot program involving additive, or 3D, manufacturing.

The President made the statement during his State of the Union address, in which he reinforced his commitment to revitalizing U.S. manufacturing. The announcement follows the March 2012 creation of the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI). At that time, the President said his plan was to create 15 institutes for manufacturing innovation across the country.

The first institute, called the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII), was announced in April 2012 and is based in Youngstown, OH. In August of last year, the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining was chosen to manage a NAMII pilot program in additive manufacturing, and in November, NAMII issued its first call for projects. Awards are expected to be announced by March 1, 2013.

As part of President Obama’s original plan to create the NNMI, he asked Congress for a one-time, $1 billion fund to establish the 15 institutes. During the State of the Union, he urged Congress to provide the money, and said he was using his executive power to get the next three institutes under way. The Youngstown pilot was funded by a $45 million commitment from five federal agencies, led by the Department of Defense.

The underlying idea for the new institutes is to leverage the strengths of various U.S. regions by bringing together manufacturing companies, universities, community colleges, and government. NAMII, for example, has more than 60 members, including such well-known organizations as General Electric, Kennametal, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, the University of Texas, Case Western Reserve University, Kent State University, and manufacturing associations such as the Society of Manufacturing Engineers and the Association of Manufacturing Technology.

It is not yet known which technologies will be the focus of the three new institutes the President has initiated by executive order.

As part of his plan to revitalize U.S. manufacturing, the President has also proposed:

  • Lowering tax rates for manufacturers to 25%, expanding and making permanent the R&D tax credit, creating an “offshoring” tax, extending tax incentives to invest in clean energy, and a reauthorization of the Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit.
  • A $25 million increase to the program to create industry-specific Manufacturing Technology Acceleration Centers, which would help coordinate key supply chains. The Obama Administration will pilot two new centers using existing resources.
  • Launching an “Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership” to help hard-hit manufacturing communities attract new investment. The White House said the President’s budget will propose $113 million in assistance for five manufacturing communities.
  • A Manufacturing Communities Tax Credit to “help prevent the downward spiral that can occur following mass layoff events.

Do the President’s proposals add up to a game-changing plan for U.S. manufacturing? Will centers such as the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute help drive innovation that will make a difference in U.S. manufacturing competitiveness?

Category: Industrial Policy
Written by David Brousell

Global Vice President, General Manager and Editorial Director of the Manufacturing Leadership Council

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