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What: The Initiative

When you think about manufacturing, what image comes to mind? A dark, dirty picture of dangerous factories filled with workers and machines repeatedly doing the same thing over and over again? Well think again!

The information technology (IT) revolution has finally come to factory floors around the world. Today, manufacturing is becoming highly-automated and IT-driven or simply put, “smart.” Every day, advances in modern manufacturing technologies make factories smarter, safer and also more environmentally sustainable.  Progressive businesses will strategically investing to transform their operations from cost centers into smart manufacturing profit centers that will dramatically increase their sales.

However, global competition is a marathon race towards this new age of advanced or “smart manufacturing.” As the next generation of 21st century smart manufacturing starts, some developed and even emerging nations have already jumped the gun with strong industrial policies that help to align government, businesses and educational institutions to take advantage of it. The European Commission is investing nearly $2 billion into a “Factories of the Future” public-private partnership to develop the blueprints for a smarter manufacturing sector in the European Union.

The U.S. still has the world’s oldest industrial base with no plan to help American businesses construct or modernize factories with 21st century smart manufacturing technologies. To encourage businesses to make such major long-term capital investments, the U.S. will need a business climate for manufacturers that is at least equal to and ideally better than the rest of the world. To remain competitive and retain its leadership in the world economy, America needs “Smarter Factories.”

Plus, there’s a huge counterintuitive benefit — as factories get smarter, they create an increasingly larger number of “indirect” jobs required to support them. Highly-automated 21st Century smart manufacturing plants can be “an economic engine” driving the larger service sector and creating tens of millions of manufacturing-dependent service sector jobs in the future.

Today, about 12 million Americans work directly in manufacturing. However, only six million Americans have service sector jobs because of U.S. manufacturing, according to the National Association of Manufacturers and economists at the Manufacturer’s Alliance.  Studies show that as factories get smarter, the employment multipliers will increase to be two, three, four or more times greater than the number of jobs directly in manufacturing. Yes, more new jobs will be created outside than inside smart new manufacturing plants. Modernization or construction of this next generation of “Smart Factories” can accelerate this trend and create entire new communities of very good, sustainable jobs that are “indirectly” necessary to support smarter manufacturing.

Every rural American knows that one highly-automated farmer creates up to 10 good jobs in their town that are essential to supply, service and support that one farmer. Similarly, a core 10 million Americans working in 21st Century highly-automated plants and factories could eventually create 100 million good jobs in surrounding towns and cities that are essential to supply, service and support them.

Yes. We’ll probably lose yet another two million labor-intensive manufacturing jobs in addition to the five million already lost during the journey to Smart Manufacturing. However, Americans stopped lamenting long ago the millions of lost farming jobs during that similiar journey. Instead, we now celebrate and enjoy our nation’s reputation as the “breadbasket to the world” in thanksgiving due to the abundant cornucopia of crops from smarter farmers in the nation’s highly-automated Agriculture sector.

Hopefully, this website can help convincingly educate Americans about the golden age  possible with increasingly abundant, affordable American-made manufactured goods as well as the tens of millions of new service sector jobs that will be created as the result of our nation’s race — and hopefully Gold-medal winning victory — in the global competition towards a brighter future of smart, safe, sustainable and surging manufacturing.

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