By CONGRESSMAN MIKE FITZPATRICK
As our nation’s economy begins to recover, it is imperative that the United States bring manufacturing jobs back to America. This goal has been at the top of my agenda, And so I was pleased to read the series published in the Courier Times and Intelligencer: “Made in the USA.”
The series highlighted local, small businesses and the importance of domestic manufacturing and its impact on manufacturers’ bottom line, their employees, customers, and communities.
The personal stories and information conveyed in the series lines up with much of what I heard during visits to 100 local businesses and manufacturers in 100 days, some reported in your newspapers. I had a unique opportunity to meet with business owners and their employees and learned how they are dealing, in this economy, with the challenge of growth and jobs and how important it is that we work together to address their issues. As a result of that experience and information gathered over the past few years, I developed a plan, similar in name to your series, to help revitalize the American manufacturing sector, which we all agree is key to our economic recovery. (Manufacturing has the highest multiplier effect of any sector in our economy.)
According to my revitalization plan, “Made in America,” stands for quality, value, and ingenuity — all important to industry, and ones clearly conveyed through the newspaper’s “Made in the USA” series. Without a doubt, the role of government is important. To bring manufacturing back to America, we must promote a variety of federal and national initiatives: lowering taxes and promoting certainty to encourage businesses to remain in the United States, reining in overreaching ineffective and onerous federal regulation to help businesses grow, engaging in “Buy American” and other pro-growth initiatives, and encouraging workforce development.
In Congress I’ve supported countless bills that empower small businesses and manufacturers, some of which resulted from my meetings with business owners, manufacturers and workers in Bucks and Montgomery counties.
Equally important to building an economy in which manufacturing thrives, is providing them with a skilled workforce. You may have heard there are “jobs,” but not enough workers trained to fill them. This is more important since manufacturing supports an estimated 17.2 million jobs in the United States — about one in six private sector jobs. And nearly 12 million Americans — or 9 percent of the workforce — are employed directly in manufacturing.
Your series also highlighted the importance of connecting high school students, young adults, returning military veterans and those pursuing a second career, to new educational and training resources. Ultimately, it is the skilled and trained individuals who will claim the family sustaining jobs in a broadened manufacturing base.
Today, there are not enough institutions training young people to participate in the high-skill manufacturing sector, even though the National Association of Colleges and Employers reports that the higher paying entry level jobs go to those with industrial and manufacturing degrees. Therefore, we must direct our attention to making sure manufacturers have access to a skilled workforce by encouraging and supporting technical and scientific education.
Long ago, American ingenuity, innovation and an acknowledged productive workforce established the United States as the No. 1 manufacturing country. Now, I would like to see us, once again, be a world leader and the best place in the world to manufacture.
While the history of the 8th District describes the Bucks-Montgomery region as business friendly, we can continue to build on that reputation as we focus on the elements that will bring about a manufacturing resurgence in the region and the nation. Again, much of what we need to accomplish requires cooperation between the public and private sectors, workforce development and public education — and thank you for your attention to the latter. I commend the newspaper on the series and trust you will continue to provide your readers with important public service stories, such as “Made in America.”
Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick is serving his third term in the U.S. House of Representatives. He represents Pennsylvania’s 8th District, which includes Bucks County and a portion of Montgomery County.