Making It in the USA

April 27, 2012

Michael Lind and the good folks at the New America Foundation have produced an interesting report on American manufacturing, “Value Added: America’s Manufacturing Future.” It notes that “a world-class, dynamic manufacturing sector contributes to innovation and American prosperity.” 

This was a theme discussed by Henry Nothhaft at the recent NCF Business Horizon Summit (and will be a topic of conversation at the upcoming Business Horizon Series meeting featuring AEI scholar and National Chamber Foundation fellow Mark Perry). Nothhaft is the author of “Great Again: Revitalizing America’s Entrepreneurial Leadership” and while Nothhaft is in favor of robust trade linkages among nations, he also believes America needs a strong manufacturing core if it hopes to continue to be a leader in innovation. 

The New America report is filled with several sensible policy proposals designed to ensure the United States is a welcome home for manufacturing enterprises of all kinds. The authors note that “America’s manufacturing companies also anchor America’s innovation ecosystem, providing demand for American researchers and a supply of investment in R&D in the U.S. Innovation in the U.S. cannot be severed from domestic production; the two belong to an innovation system whose elements benefit each other and flourish or fail together.” 

This is a theme championed by Michael Mandel of the Progressive Policy Institute among others.  Mandel has recently done interesting research on what he calls the “app economy” and the jobs being created thanks to the mobile information and communication boom.  That boom rests upon American manufacturing prowess – an electrical, energy, information, and communications network infrastructure system that provides lots of jobs and drives economic growth.  And that continued boom is only possible if it rolls along in concert with a healthy and dynamic manufacturing sector.