Posted by: Providence Chamber of Commerce | September 20, 2012

Feds Promote Manufacturing Resurgence ~ Theme of New England Council Meeting

Since becoming elected in 2010 to the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman David Cicilline has focused on four specific important business growth areas: helping local manufacturers to better compete in a global marketplace; ensuring the New England states are producing a well-trained workforce; helping to improve resources for start-ups and small businesses; and strengthening the middle class economy. Congressman Cicilline was the featured speaker at The New England Council breakfast meeting yesterday at the Biltmore Hotel.

Congressman Cicilline reported on his accomplishments, which included sponsoring the “Made it in America” Act of 2011. This program directs block grant funding for specific uses:  (1) Retooling or retrofitting a small- or medium-sized manufacturer, including equipment, facilities, infrastructure, or capital; (2) Diversifying the business plan of a small- or medium-sized manufacturer to advance the production of clean energy technology products or components, energy efficient products or components, and high-technology products or components; (3) Improving the energy or process efficiency of a manufacturing facility of a small- or medium-sized manufacturer. (4) Retraining the employees of a small- or medium-sized manufacturer to provide skills necessary to operate new or advanced manufacturing equipment; (5) Training new employees of a small- or medium-sized manufacturer, including on-the-job training. (6) Providing capital and technical expertise to a small- or medium-sized manufacturer to expand the export opportunities of that manufacturer. (7) Establishing a revolving loan fund to provide loans to small- or medium-sized manufacturers to finance the costs of the above activities.

Cicilline feels Rhode Island, specifically, needs to expand efforts to regain its competitive manufacturing position in the world economy. Rhode Island lost 11,000 manufacturing jobs during the most recent economic downturn. Yet, at the same time, the cost of doing business in China is steadily growing, providing opportunity for Rhode Island manufacturers to benefit from the trend to bring production processes back to the US. The American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act recently passed the House of Representatives, requiring the President to submit to Congress a national strategy to support manufacturing. Advanced manufacturing has the potential to create 8,000 jobs with wages of approximately $80,000 in the New England region alone. Congressman Cicilline also supported the extension of the Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR), a funding resource which to date has brought Rhode Island over $100 million in research dollars. He also believes that the US needs to level the playing field for manufacturers in the areas of tax and fair trade policies. He noted that Rhode Island has the most science and technology related businesses as a percentage of all businesses in New England.

The New England Council is a non-partisan alliance of businesses, academic and health institutions, and public and private organizations formed to promote economic growth and a high quality of life in the New England region. Its mission is to identify and support federal public policies and articulate the voice of its membership regionally and nationally on important issues facing New England.  The Council works to foster positive working relationships between its members and key federal policy makers, including members of Congress and leaders of key federal agencies. 

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