We stand on the precipice of the largest manufacturing opportunity in the United States since the Industrial Revolution. That isn't hyperbole, it is a fact. The global economics will justify manufacturing here vs there in relatively short order - and we could be well on our way to blowing it.
Manufacturing has led the fledgling recovery from the start and if we do not move to fan the weak flames they can burn out before they really turn into the fire of economic growth that the manufacturing economy may be. Manufacturing provided the transitional base from the agrarianism of the 19th century. Manufacturing builds wealth, creates jobs, and provides the people with things the people need like, you know, everything.
Here are some immediate steps we could take to avoid that very real possibility of failing to capitalize on the opportunity before us and retaking global economic leadership.
1. The White House, in concert with recommendation from Mike Molnar at NIST, needs to identify manufacturing as a key national security resource and develop an articulated policy to foster growth & expansion in the space. If anyone needs convincing, ask the DOD. They have a lot of critical manufacturing requests and need new sources of supply and simpler acquisition methodologies.
2. Spearheaded by the SME in concert with public and private partners there needs to be a sustained initiative to enhance STEM education effectiveness and educate the youth of the United States to one simple fact. Building stuff is cool! I close every speech I give by telling people the best thing they can do for manufacturing is buy a Lego set on the way home and build it with a child they care about. It is the collective responsibility of everyone who cares about manufacturing to make this a priority.
3. Speculation must be suspended on a list of strategic commodities. No more metals or oil futures markets. This will have short term consequences on the financial markets and long term gain for the overarching economy including American export competitiveness. It is baffling to me that gambling on things that have ripple effects into the wallet of every American is allowed. This is criminal.
4. While I am generally against tariffs, we have to consider reaching a tariff equilibrium with other nations. Free trade is a good thing, but only if the playing field is level. If you have any question as to why free trade is a good thing, I give you the immortal words of Aaron Sorkin via Toby Ziegler.
If this country does not immediately pivot to support this amazing opportunity in concert with the need for job creation, we could be costing ourselves, and our children, a vibrant future.