As you probably know from my other posts, Manufacturing Renaissance (MR) has been advancing the potential for manufacturing to be the foundation of rebuilding our society and rebuilding communities like those on Chicago’s West Side. Over the last three years, I’ve been working on a paper—Towards a New Paradigm of Development that articulates our larger vision for a paradigm shift in our society and have offered descriptions of what we see as programmatic prototypes that demonstrate the potential of such a shift.
With the election of Biden/Harris came a positive shift in federal policy on manufacturing, climate change, inclusion, and the role of government. Manufacturing is clearly linked to social objectives more so than any other time in the last 40 years. It was time for MR to become part of the national discussion—offering our vision captured in our proposal for an industrial policy: Inclusion & Industry 4.0; and our practical experience in developing programmatic prototypes that reflect that vision for inner cities and other distressed communities.
An old friend—Carl Davidson—introduced me to Alan Minsky, the Executive Director of Progressive Democrats of America. (PDA) PDA was the organization that convinced Bernie Sanders to run for the presidency and has decades of experience in working with members of Congress. I pitched MR’s perspectives to Alan offering both the vision as well as the programs that are “shovel ready” to implement that vision. Our approach could bring together the labor movement, manufacturers, community-based leaders of all kinds, the environmental movement, and government—the kind of coalition of unlikely partners seen in the Chicagoland Manufacturing Renaissance Council.
I insisted that my interest was not representing another issue added to the laundry list of progressive programs, but something that was truly distinctive and transformative and that could be truly non-partisan attracting the active support of Democrats, Republicans, socialists, Trump supporters, and independents. We need new programmatic prototypes that demonstrate the power of this new industrial policy giving the broader public a reason to support the promotion of manufacturing policies and programs, as well as giving manufacturers evidence and confidence that these new programs and policies are in their interest as well.
Alan responded by saying he was “thrilled” with the vision and agreed to work together. Together, we recruited other key partners for this effort including David Robinson, Manufacturing Renaissance; Thomas Hannah, Democracy Collaborative; Bob Creamer of Democratic Partners; Andy Stettner of The Century Foundation; Teresa Cordova of the Great Cities Institute at the University of Illinois; Michael Bennett, African American Institute for Leadership and Policy; Tim Wright of the law firm Quintairos, Prieto Wood & Boyer; and Doug Gamble, former union leader and former staff at the Highlander Research and Education Center. Together, we wrote the following summary statement of our values and objectives.
As I stated in the conclusion of my larger paper—it’s time to contend. Join us.