Effort will encourage an improved approach to economic development around the country
The Obama administration today announced that it is accepting applications for the first phase of the “Investing in Manufacturing Communities” Partnership, a new initiative outlined in the President’s fiscal year 2014 budget that will help accelerate the resurgence of manufacturing and create jobs across the country.
Phase One of the “Investing in Manufacturing Communities” Partnership: In the first phase of this effort, the Departments of Commerce and Agriculture as well as the Small Business Administration and Environmental Protection Agency will award at least 25 grants of up to $200,000 each to help regions develop long-term economic development strategies intended to create a globally competitive environment that will attract, retain and expand investment and spur international trade and exports. These “Implementation Strategies” will encourage collaboration at the local level to identify the region’s comparative advantages and assets, and plan investments to expand the area’s appeal to manufacturers. In addition, these grants can be used to help communities prepare for the second phase of this initiative, IMCP “Challenge” grants.
The Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) is a new Administration-wide initiative that will accelerate the resurgence of manufacturing and help communities cultivate an environment for businesses to create well-paying manufacturing jobs in cities across the country.
Through the IMCP, the President is directing Federal agencies to provide coordinated assistance to manufacturing communities through a new partnership that will align Federal economic development resources and help U.S. localities make coordinated, long-term investments in their public goods in partnership with universities and industry. These investments will ultimately help regions become more attractive for manufacturers and supply chains. The Partnership will be led by the Commerce Department with support from other federal agencies.
Five to six U.S. communities in 2014 would be competitively selected as pilots, each receiving up to $25 million from the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration, in addition to funding from other government agencies. Federal agencies will also align and coordinate their funding opportunities to maximize the effectiveness of Federal expenditures and ensure that localities are able to more seamlessly access the Federal resources they need to fund strategies for attracting long-term business investment.
I have the pleasure of meeting frequently with business owners from across the country. They talk about where their challenges are in growing and sustaining their businesses, and they also talk about how locating production abroad hasn’t always turned out as well as they had hoped. Not surprisingly, during our current economic recovery and expansion, news reports and private consultants have repeatedly echoed that thinking. Increasingly we hear that U.S. companies that previously took their operations or supply chains overseas are now reshoring or insourcing─bringing operations and supply chains back home to America.
To help continue that momentum, the Department of Commerce today published a new tool to help inform manufacturing firms’ location decisions. The Assess Costs Everywhere (ACE) tool outlines the wide range of costs and risks associated with offshore production, and provides links to important public and private resources, so that firms can more accurately assess the total cost of operating overseas. ACE also shares case studies of firms that reversed their decisions to locate offshore once the full range of costs became clear.
The role of the manufacturing sector in the U.S. economy is more prominent than is suggested solely by its output or number of workers. It is a cornerstone of innovation in our economy: manufacturing firms fund most domestic corporate research and development (R&D), and the resulting innovations and productivity growth improve our standard of living. Manufacturing also drives U.S. exports and is crucial for a strong national defense.
Manufacturing is a dynamic and changing industry. Explore and analyze the current state of manufacturing and its potential future direction. To this end, several manufacturing indicators are listed below to paint a picture. These indicators were chosen to represent a current snapshot of different dimensions of the industry and its performance. The indicators are updated as new data becomes available. Links to the sources of these indicators are provided when available.
American manufacturers are saying that business is booming, but many of them also say that banks aren’t keen to provide the loans necessary to hire more workers, buy new equipment, and ramp up production. According to Biz2credit, a New York firm that matches borrowers with lenders, a recent analysis found that loan approvals at large banks (those with $10 billion plus in assets) fell in April for the second straight month.
Banks are saying that they’re willing to lend but also admit that they are proceeding with caution, especially with loans to smaller, or contract manufacturers. Recent articles note that “the slow pace of the economic recovery is causing both borrowers and lenders to proceed with caution” and “ the slowdown in small-business lending is due to the March expiration of a temporary 90% guarantee on SBA loans and the reinstatement SBA loan fees that had been temporarily waived to stimulate lending.”
However, I would like to suggest that the continued tightness in business lending may be a reflection of banking strategies employed by different sized banks. Big national banks are much more likely to have been affected by the mortgage backed security mess and the subsequent increase in bank oversight and regulation has encouraged them to reduce risk and tighten lending. Smaller banks, meanwhile, which have traditionally made their living off of smaller loans that they carry on their own balance sheets, seem to have increased their small business lending.