Political Intelligence

Kennedy introduces manufacturing bill

US Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III has teamed up with a New York Republican to introduce legislation on Friday aimed at establishing regional institutes to promote advanced manufacturing.

The bill, introduced the day Congress goes on summer recess, would pair federal funding with private- and public-sector investments, patterned after a Defense Department pilot program in Youngstown Ohio. After seven years, the federal spending would lapse, requiring additional outside financing.

“The goal is that the technology that is developed out of this would have important commercial uses,” Kennedy said.

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The $600 million legislation would direct the federal government to partner with businesses, education institutes and other groups in creating institutes focused on specific manufacturing methods or technology.

Funding for the bill, known as the Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act, is included in President Obama’s budget, Kennedy said. To clear the House, offsetting spending cuts would need to be identified.

RAMI would direct the Secretary of Commerce to support the establishment of institutes across the country dedicated to improving U.S. competitiveness in manufacturing, increasing domestic production and accelerating the development of an advanced manufacturing workforce. Each institute will be a public-private partnership between industry, academia, and other relevant entities. They will be required to focus on a specific and unique manufacturing process, technology, or methodology.

“It is a definite, big priority for the White House,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy introduced the bill with US Representative Tom Reed, a Republican from New York, who chairs the House Manufacturing Caucus.

“We wanted to make sure that the Republican lead would be able to push this forward,” Kennedy said.

According to a New England Economic Partnership report released in May, Massachusetts’s long-declining manufacturing sector employs 8 percent of the state’s workers. Manufacturing employment is expected to inch up 0.4 percent over the next five years, according to the report, with up to 100,ooo vacancies over the next 10 years as existing workers leave their jobs.

Kennedy said a manufacturing institute like the ones envisioned in the legislation would help the state fill those positions.

“The goal in this is to try to tighten that pipeline from schools, colleges, vocational schools—to a job,” Kennedy said.

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