UNION LEADER: Study says region’s states should cooperate in order to drive manufacturing
As originally appearing in The New Hampshire Union Leader

By DAVE SOLOMON
New Hampshire Union Leader

 

BOSTON — A manufacturing revolution is underway in New England, according to a report by the New England Council that calls for regional collaboration on a Network for Manufacturing Innovation.

New Hampshire was cited in the report as a hotbed of innovation, with references to companies like Dyn and initiatives like the state’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership.

Gov. Maggie Hassan has made promotion of advanced manufacturing in the state a keystone of her “innovation economy” platform.

The 112-page study, set for release today at an event in Boston, was completed over the past year by Deloitte Consulting on behalf of the New England Council, which brands itself as “New England’s voice on Capitol Hill for more than 85 years.”

The analysis makes the case that advanced manufacturing is a driver of the region’s economy, with the potential for growth.

But the window of opportunity will close, and the promise of high-paying jobs will be realized elsewhere, if the six New England states don’t start to cooperate on a variety of proposed initiatives, including an application to the federal government for creation of a New England manufacturing institute.

President Obama has called for the creation of a Nationwide Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) to develop and share manufacturing technologies and processes. In December, he signed the Revitalize American Manufacturing Act into law.

The act seeks $1 billion over 10 years for 45 institutes across the country, modeled in part on the extensive network of Fraunhofer research and development institutes in Germany that are funded by industry, universities and government.

The first two U.S. institutes were launched last year in Detroit and Chicago, with private companies, nonprofits and universities partnering with the federal government.

New England states need to cooperate to create such an opportunity in the six-state region, according to the study, titled “Advanced to Advantageous: the Case for New England’s Manufacturing Revolution.”

“Cross-border collaboration represents a critical ingredient to a successful NNMI grant,” states the report. “An effort to convene and align stakeholders and to focus them on a unified agenda for growth may be the first step in a series of powerful activities to position to region, rather than the sum of its parts.”

The authors of the study argue that New England, birthplace of the industrial revolution in America, is a logical place for the evolution of a new style of manufacturing that shatters the old myths of “dirty, dark, dangerous and declining.”

“The heyday of the shipbuilding yards and textile mills may have waned, but the highly skilled, advanced manufacturing networks that have evolved from it are posed to have a dramatic impact on the economy in New England,” they write. “Based on the findings of this report, one might suggest that the aforementioned four “D’s” of manufacturing should be replaced with the four “A’s” — advanced, advantaged, added-value and accelerating.”

In addition to securing a Manufacturing Innovation Institute, the report recommends more integration of the educational system in the region; a new commitment to paid internships and apprenticeships; and a rebranding campaign to change the image of manufacturing.

“By calling it the ‘Maker Revolution,’ we change the brand of manufacturing to reflect the high pay, critical thinking, advanced technologies and designs that define it,” states the report.

The study also calls for efforts to reduce the high price of doing business in New England, with a focus on lowering energy costs, maintaining good infrastructure and streamlining regulatory complexity.

 

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