PAWTUCKET, RI -- The United States’ economic power and military might depends on a strong domestic manufacturing foundation, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) told a crowd of Rhode Islanders at the Pawtucket Armory last night. Reed, a senior member of the Armed Services Committee, joined Brigadier General John Adams (U.S. Army, Retired) and Scott Paul, President of the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM), and local business leaders for a summit on manufacturing, national security, and job creation.
“Rhode Island is poised to play an increasingly important role in our national defense, and I want to help accelerate manufacturing job growth in the Ocean State and attract more manufacturing jobs and investment to Rhode Island,” said Reed.
“Senator Jack Reed has been a champion of our national security by also championing our economic strength. When Washington takes these issues up, we’re lucky to have him at the table. He knows how important a strong manufacturing base is to our national security, and his policy proposals to boost manufacturing jobs would make a real difference for Rhode Island,” said AAM President Scott Paul.
For the first time in thirteen years, Rhode Island gained manufacturing jobs, according to a 2014 report by Manufacturers' News, Inc. MNI’s study shows Rhode Island added 1,045 manufacturing jobs in 2013, an increase of 1.8 percent, the first time MNI recorded a gain for the state since 2000. The report also stated that Rhode Island is now home to 1,765 manufacturers employing 59,092 workers.
“I am proud of Rhode Island’s manufacturing heritage and the nearly $4 billion it adds to our economy every year. Growing jobs and the economy here in Rhode Island takes a multi-faceted approach – it takes investments in our infrastructure, education, and workforce training while making sure small businesses have the capital they need to grow – all those investments are key to fostering a strong manufacturing base,” stated Reed. “The key is to build on the state’s many advantages and connect our assets so it translates the recent progress we’ve made into increased sales and new orders, and sustainable production and employment for the long haul.”
Reed pointed out that in order to build on this momentum, the federal government needs to work with industry, academic research institutions, and the military to make smart investments in things like infrastructure, education, and research and development, while also helping U.S. manufacturers with things like capital access and export promotion.
American manufacturing contributed $1.87 trillion to the U.S. economy in 2012, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, nearly 12% of GDP. And the New England Council reports that in Rhode Island, the annual average manufacturing wage in 2011 was $66,629, compared with $46,375 for all other jobs.
“Manufacturing plays a key role in our national security. Our state has a proud heritage of making everything from high-tech naval systems to weapons, clothing, and equipment used to identify threats and keep our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines safe from harm. And keeping our nation safe means boosting domestic manufacturing and ensuring the supplies, material, equipment and other systems our military relies on are produced here at home,” said Reed, the Chairman of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower, who helped secure $5.8 billion for the Virginia-class submarine program, including two submarines in 2014, and advance procurement funding for two ships planned in 2015. The National Defense Authorization Act supports the upcoming ten boat, five year multi-year contract currently being negotiated by the Navy and Electric Boat. It also authorizes $1 billion to continue development of the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine replacement.
General Adams wrote a report titled: “Remaking American Security: Supply Chain Vulnerabilities & National Security Risks Across the U.S. Defense Industrial Base” highlighting the need to reduce the U.S. military’s dependence on foreign suppliers for the raw materials, parts, and finished products needed to defend America. The report calls for action to increase domestic production of the natural resources and manufactured goods necessary to equip the U.S. military.
“We have become increasingly reliant on a global supply chain. That has made us vulnerable to other countries that -- in a time of crisis, might not have America’s best interests at heart -- to provide for the necessities of America’s defense,” noted General Adams.
A video of a portion of the event’s speaking program is available online: http://m.ustream.tv/channel/aam-town-halls