Manufacturing Renaissance Agenda: Shaping Industrial Policy in the U.S.

The movement for a stronger and more equitable manufacturing sector in this country is growing. It is being shaped by the Manufacturing Renaissance Agenda (MRA), a national coalition that is working to advance manufacturing policies on a national level.  Partners in the MRA have had two successful meetings with senior White House economic advisors since early April. 

Manufacturing Renaissance (MR) is partnering with Progressive Democrats of America, the Democracy CollaborativeDemocracy Partners, The Century Foundation, UIC’s Great Cities Institute, and many other partners for this campaign to shape the direction of American industrial policy.  

MR’s work helped lay the groundwork for the MRA, which reflects an integrated approach to manufacturing and development that MR has embraced for years in its program and policy work. This approach emphasizes education and training prioritizing youth, retention of companies, and partnerships, says Dan Swinney, Founder and Senior Advisor of Manufacturing Renaissance.  

“This coalition is focusing on practical solutions in manufacturing that are about people getting jobs, no one being excluded, and building a sustainable sector for the future,” Swinney says. “Manufacturing can be a tide that lifts all boats. What we are proposing coincides with major efforts to address a floundering economy and society.” 

While this effort targets pervasive issues in manufacturing, it is growing at a time when the White House is promoting its “Build Back Better” plan for relief from the pandemic, job growth, and investment in the country’s future. The MRA will continue to engage with the White House about how this effort can be integrated into ongoing initiatives to build infrastructure, address climate change and other issues that impact manufacturing and communities. Several leading elected officials have also agreed to champion this effort, including Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Reps. Ro Khanna (D-CA),  Danny Davis (D-IL), and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL). Many other elected officials have responded to the MRA in a positive way. 

The MRA drafted a document that lays out a shared vision and concrete legislative proposals that can drive this effort forward.     

Changing the narrative on manufacturing 

The context of this work tells a story about why this moment, and this Agenda, can be pivotal to the development of manufacturing and our communities in this country.  While one common narrative about manufacturing tells the story of deindustrialization, shop closings, and job loss, the MRA reflects how the narrative about manufacturing can be transformed in the coming years towards building communities. 

The MRA defines a new narrative, one that builds on the expertise and input of many partners who have created a vision for industrial growth that benefits all. It’s a vision that emphasizes equity and inclusion in manufacturing, the rebuilding of inner-city communities, and the need for a shift to an environmentally friendly economy in the coming years. 

What is Needed 

High Road Industrial Policy: Yes, our industrial future must be defined by growth of Industry 4.0 sectors, worker rights, community building, and the environment. 

Industrial Retention: The future of industrial retention will mean assisting smaller companies to be more resilient, adaptive and sustainable, while recruiting, encouraging and supporting Black, Latinx, Indigenous and other people of color to purchase companies. 

Education and training: The next step for manufacturing must involve expanded career pathways and training programs, from pre-school to graduate school. And growing new kinds of institutional partnerships that connect communities and industries and training. 

Equity: The Agenda proposes federal manufacturing programs that feature specific goals around diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

Manufacturing Renaissance Councils: How will this kind of change happen? It will be catalyzed by strong and vibrant public/private partnerships that will facilitate and support efforts to expand a diversity of programs and initiatives to educate and mobilize the public on this agenda and its programs. One example of how this works is the Chicagoland Manufacturing Renaissance Council.  

Next Steps: How to Get There 

The Agenda has set forth a range of concrete legislative proposals that can propel progress towards inclusion in manufacturing. 

Prioritize Equity and Inclusion  

On a federal level, the Agenda proposes, the Economic Development Administration should create a network of industry and inclusion networks. Meanwhile, an expanded Manufacturing Extension Partnership should promote a diversity, equity, and inclusion agenda. The Manufacturing USA Network should promote advanced manufacturing opportunities among communities of color. 

Prioritize Nurturing Partnerships 

An array of partnerships is needed to meet the scale of workforce needs, according to the Agenda. These partnerships would target investment in partnerships between community based and industry organizations and K-12 systems; Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges, and other Minority Serving Institutions, community college programs, and wrap-around services that support key needs like child care, transportation, and mentoring. 

The Agenda also recommends that the Workforce Investment Opportunity Act be used in a more expansive way to establish equity-driven sectoral partnerships and strengthen layoff aversion. 

Our coverage of the Manufacturing Renaissance Agenda will be updated with new information. Go to our website for the latest stories.  

For more: 

Comments by Dan Swinney, Founder and Senior Advisor, Manufacturing Renaissance, at Manufacturing Renaissance Agenda meeting with senior economic advisors in the White House, April, 2021 

Endorsement of Manufacturing Renaissance by Alan Minsky, Executive Director, Progressive Democrats of America, May, 2021.