Andrew Stettner, Senior Fellow at The Century Foundation, attends the signing ceremony of the CHIPS bill at the White House, 8/9/22
For more than a year, Manufacturing Renaissance has played an important role in forging and promoting national legislation that would help create jobs and boost competitiveness in this country. The organization has been instrumental in the growth of the Manufacturing Renaissance Campaign, which includes leaders from labor, business, environmental justice, public policy, and community development and has advocated for policies that support the manufacturing sector.
These efforts took a major step forward in August when President Biden signed the CHIPS and Science Act on August 9. The bill was passed by the U.S. House and Senate in late July. (CHIPS stands for “creating helpful incentives to produce semiconductors”). The rare bipartisan agreement authorized $50 billion to bolster semiconductor research and manufacturing.
The Manufacturing Renaissance Campaign worked for near two years educating policy makers in the White House, Congress, as well as community stakeholders to advocate the inclusion of some of these provisions in the bill. The Campaign also pressed leaders in Congress to invest heavily in the manufacturing sector through the Manufacturing Reinvestment Corporation Act (HR 5124), which was introduced by Illinois Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky last year. The CHIPS bill carries on this effort to build the sector.
“We are very encouraged by the passage of the CHIPS Act, but after nearly two years of vigorously advocating for bottom-up investments in inclusive manufacturing, there is more work to be done,” says Erica Staley, executive director of Manufacturing Renaissance, which promotes the expansion of the manufacturing ecosystem.
“Our coalition is very encouraged that members of Congress included some of our language in this bill,” adds Staley. “While it didn’t go quite far enough, this sets the stage for organizations that serve disadvantaged communities to secure millions for programs in their local community that can directly lead to greater inclusion in manufacturing growth, including technology that reflects the need for a green economy, and HBCUs [Historically Black Colleges and Universities],” she says.
The bill included more funding to create at least 20 regional technology hubs and to support manufacturing education, training, and jobs, a feature of the bill hailed explicitly by manufacturing industry advocates around the country.
The CHIPS and Science Act will strengthen our economy and supply chains, diversify our manufacturing workforce, and create good-paying jobs for people across the country.
Meanwhile, Manufacturing Renaissance continues its work to promote investment in the creation of manufacturing renaissance councils around the country where local stakeholders would help direct industry investment. Another key goal is advocating for provisions to help people of color identify and acquire manufacturing companies whose owners have no succession plans.
Job training for people in disadvantaged communities also remains a top priority, especially in a climate where many manufacturers struggle to fill high-skilled jobs. “Most communities of color don’t have access to the training they need to get those jobs” adds Dr. Michael Bennett, workforce scholar and Associate Professor of Sociology at DePaul University, and President of the African American Leadership and Policy Institute in Chicago.
“Let’s put even greater focus on education, training, and opportunities in manufacturing,” added Ronald Damper, founder and President of Damron, the first African-American-owned company to be a national supplier to McDonald’s. “Let’s put the country back in the global manufacturing driver’s seat—only this time, everyone should be on the bus.”
The CHIPS bill is a major step forward, but advocates point to the continued need for a diverse workforce with advanced skills that will prepare them for a manufacturing sector that employs people from disadvantaged communities and will have a lighter environmental footprint.
Dan Swinney, founder of Manufacturing Renaissance, says that “It’s time for a new paradigm in America where an inclusive, ‘high road’ U.S. manufacturing and industrial policy restores the U.S. as an innovator and global economic leader. That’s what we need to put Americans of all kinds into middle-income jobs or better, and rebuild disinvested communities.”