Although our economy finally is rebounding from the recession, we shouldn’t let the positive news distract us from the long-term, macro challenges that continue to ail job growth, including the decline of American manufacturing. Strengthening the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturing in a global economy is critical to our economic growth and security.
Fortunately, some policymakers are taking up the fight for manufacturing and have introduced the Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act. Building on an initiative called the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation, the legislation will authorize a network of regional institutes focused on advanced manufacturing innovation. Funded by a mix of federal, state, university and private-sector money, these institutes will close the gap between research and development and the commercialization of new technologies, increasing the likelihood that what is developed and sold in the United States is made here as well.
Just this fall, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the legislation. Unfortunately, the Senate has not yet passed it, and Congress is running out of time. The failure of Congress to pass the legislation this year would be a shame for the nation and, more specifically, for South Carolina. I’m proud of Isola’s decision to locate manufacturing facilities in South Carolina. The positive business climate here has allowed us to remain a market leader, and in return, our company has contributed to job growth in the state’s manufacturing sector, which now employs 15 percent of the population.
South Carolina wants to grow these good-paying manufacturing jobs, but doing so requires the partnership of all stakeholders, including the federal government. South Carolina’s own Sen. Lindsey Graham is a stalwart supporter of the manufacturing industry, is co-chair of the Senate Manufacturing Caucus and is a co-sponsor of the revitalization act. Many companies, universities and associations, including our industry association, support the legislation, and I urge Congress to pass it before the end of the year, as it is a critical investment in the advanced manufacturing industries of tomorrow.