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Report Argues Manufacturing is Key to Economic Recovery

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WASHINGTON, D.C., January 29, 2013 — As part of the "Remaking Federalism, Rebuilding the Economy Series," the Brookings Institute has released a trio of papers that call for big investments in the manufacturing sector — "the most critical site of high-tech innovation, exports, and well-paying jobs with strong multiplier effects."

The first paper entitled "Create a Nationwide Network of Advanced Innovation Hubs" argues that Congress should expand the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation initiative. As regional centers of excellence, these hubs would "focus on cross-cutting innovation, process, and technology deployment challenges of critical interest to advanced industries by drawing universities, community colleges, state and local governments, and other actors into strong, industry-led partnerships." The paper calls for 25 hubs, funded at $25 million a year each, with additional local, state and private sector support.

The second paper argues that the United States should initiate a "Race to the Shop" competition. This would encourage "states and metropolitan areas to develop long-term strategies for better addressing the workforce and training needs of their leading sectors." States and regions with the best plans would receive significant resources and flexibility to create a network of manufacturing high schools or the ability to align community college curricula to fit the varying skill demands of major local industries.

Finally, the third paper calls for the creation of 20 "U.S. Manufacturing Universities." These universities would receive funding to revamp their engineering programs to better serve the needs of U.S. manufacturers. Through such changes "U.S. regions and industries would gain more joint industry-university exchanges; more undergraduate and graduate training that incorporates work-based experience in manufacturing; and more universities focused on turning out engineering PhDs who go on to work in industry."

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