Think tank encourages Trump, Congress to support smart-manufacturing policies

In anticipation of big changes around the White House, ITIF compiled recommendations for continued prosperity in the advanced tech sector.

To keep state manufacturing industries on pace with global competition, the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF) is calling on Congress and the incoming administration to continue support for technologies that enable smart production methods.

A report from the think tank titled A Policymaker’s Guide to Smart Manufacturing issues recommendations to Congress and an incoming White House administration on how to support “smart manufacturing” processes.

“The advent of smart manufacturing heralds a future where products are designed and produced more quickly, safely, efficiently, and inexpensively; more energy efficiently; and more customized to an individual customer’s needs and demands,” a report summary states.

Throughout his presidential campaign, Donald Trump promised to protect jobs for the middle class, successfully negotiating with manufacturers like Carrier, a company that makes air conditioning units, to halt its plans to relocate its Indiana factories to Mexico.


But it is unclear whether the Republican president-elect will continue with any of President Obama’s current programs to spur high-tech manufacturing.

Since taking office in 2008, the Obama administration has supported high-tech manufacturing through various avenues, beginning with the release of a national framework in 2009 that called for an investment in new advancements and business practices to scale emerging technologies. In 2012, the administration established the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation — now known as Manufacturing USA — to support industry collaboration.

ITIF is seeking continued funding for Manufacturing USA, which now includes 1,300 companies, universities and nonprofits, and has been financed with more than $600 million from the federal government, and has another $800 million scheduled funds incoming before Trump takes office in January. The White House reports that since 2010, 800,000 new manufacturing jobs have been added since the sector rebounded from the recession of the late 2000s.

The report includes 15 total suggestions for Congress, including greater tax credits for advanced manufacturers, an increase in educational resources, and continued recognition of the the Trans-Pacific Partnership — a deal Trump promised to kill during his campaign.

The report also requests that future White House leadership focus on keeping manufacturing data flowing by pushing for interoperability standards and preventing partner nations from creating data-sharing barriers for manufacturers.


States that would benefit from the proposed measures include tech hubs like California and states where manufacturing represents a significant portion of employment and gross state product. The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) lists Indiana, Oregon, and Louisiana as the top three states with gross state products of 29.5 percent, 25.9 percent, and 21.2 percent, respectively. Indiana has 17.1 percent of its workforce in manufacturing, and is followed by Wisconsin, at 16.4 percent, and Michigan — famous for its automobile production — at 14 percent.

The ITIF report underscored the importance of ongoing support for high-tech manufacturing by highlighting measures undertaken in other countries. China is investing more than $3 billion in advanced manufacturing initiatives, while the European Union allocated $7.8 billion between 2014 and 2020.

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