American mills and manufacturers are making moves to expand and rejuvenate their businesses as reshoring becomes more relevant, and the United States is taking action to aid the domestic sector.
This week, President Obama announced a $150 million public and private sector investment to launch the Revolutionary Fibers and Textiles Manufacturing Innovation Institute in Cleveland, Ohio, designed to ensure the U.S. leads in manufacturing new products from leading edge innovations in fiber science to commercializing fibers and textiles with extraordinary properties, like technical textiles.
“The U.S. fiber and textiles industries are high tech and globally competitive, and this is exactly the kind of public investment we ought to be making to ensure that the innovations and manufacturing that will be at the heart of next generation capabilities like smart fabrics for wearable technology and flame resistance happen here in the United States,” said Joshua Teitelbaum, deputy assistant secretary for textiles, consumer goods, and materials at the Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration.
Shifts in overseas offerings, like higher costs and lower quality, have contributed to the domestic manufacturing uptick, according to Teitelbaum.
“American textile exports have increased 45 percent since 2009,” he said. “That surge is attributable to not just rising costs abroad, but also domestic factors like low-cost energy, a skilled work force, and support for research and development like this.”
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker said in a statement Wednesday that the Obama Administration is committed to strengthening American manufacturing as part of the country’s economic recovery.
“The United States has added 877,000 manufacturing jobs since February 2010, the fastest and strongest growth since the 1990s,” she said, adding that, “Our small manufacturing firms have played an important role in this recovery, and as today’s report by the Department of Commerce shows, form the backbone of U.S. supply chains.”
The Commerce Department released a report titled, “Supply Chain Innovation: Strengthening America’s Small Manufacturers,” which opened noting: “U.S. manufacturing is in the midst of a potential resurgence.”
And while America’s small manufacturers may be vital to the revival, they are facing “steep” barriers to innovation, often owed to lack of access to capital and expertise to take on the risk that new technology brings.
But the U.S. government believes strengthening the country’s supply chains and small manufacturers is “essential to the long-term competitiveness of U.S. manufacturers both large and small.”
So far, the Commerce Department’s Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership, a network of 60 centers and 1,200 manufacturing experts nationwide is providing technical expertise to small manufacturers and strengthening capabilities of individuals and overall supply chains. The collaboration fosters new supplier relationships and added insight into revolutionary technologies. In addition, the Department of Energy’s National Labs helps small manufacturers access cutting-edge manufacturing equipment, lets them test new technologies and get answers to research challenges.
The report noted that the U.S. has made “considerable progress” in bolstering American manufacturing since the Great Recession, but more remains to be done.
“In order to boost manufacturing, we need to do more to provide the necessary resources and tools these small businesses need to employ the latest technologies to succeed and compete. That is why strengthening manufacturing is a key priority of the Commerce Department’s ‘Open for Business Agenda.’ We will continue to make investments that keep our manufacturing sector on the cutting edge of innovation, which is driving our economy and creates new growth industries and jobs,” Pritzker said.