Garamendi Convenes Manufacturing Advisory Committee to Discuss Strategies to Create Local Jobs
March 28, 2013
DAVIS, CA – Continuing a listening tour with major industries in the 3rd Congressional District, Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, CA) today met with his Manufacturing Advisory Committee, with close to 40 leaders from industry, labor, national labs, academia, and state and federal agencies in attendance. They met at the MORI SEIKI factory in Davis.
Job Skills Training
A representative with Manex Consulting gave participants an introduction to workforce training services available through their company and through government programs. This spawned a conversation on workforce training, with many participants eager for consistent low cost skills training. A number of local manufacturers expressed concern that many available workers lack the prerequisite skills, and for companies on low margins, extensive training can be expensive with no guarantee of retaining trained employees.
A number of participants expressed frustration that vital workplace skills aren’t being taught at California colleges. Too many American graduates are generalists without specific skills, some participants argued, leading to many jobs in America where foreign students are the predominant qualified applicant pool. Representatives from MORI SEIKI noted the success of their year round internship program and the fact that they hired eight people following the internship.
Jon Riley with the Napa-Solano Central Labor Council noted the resources his affiliated unions devote to skills training but agreed with the manufacturers that additional assistance from state and federal governments as well as community colleges would go a long way to expanding the pool of qualified American workers.
“Congressman Garamendi’s Manufacturing Advisory Committee affords a unique opportunity to help shape a forward-thinking vision of manufacturing in the United States,” Riley said. “One of these opportunities is to collaborate with businesses, labor and area schools to provide training and potential career opportunities for our youth, while at the same time addressing the shortage of highly skilled workers our future manufacturing needs.”
Make It In America
One of the goals of the meeting was to solicit input from local manufacturers on the Congressman’s Make It In America legislation.
“I want to alert you to the Invest in American Jobs Act, which I’ve co-authored with the Democratic leaders on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee,” said Congressman Garamendi. “This legislation is very similar to my previous Make It In America transportation bill, requiring all transportation projects using federal taxpayer dollars to source American-manufactured equipment unless it is unavailable or prohibitively expensive.”
He added, “I’m also introducing my Make It In America legislation for clean energy, but I’ll be honest with you, with the uncertainty surrounding the wind production tax credit (PTC), we’ve got a serious problem,” added Garamendi. “The one-year extension does little for wind energy producers who need to know they have a reliable revenue stream. There’s too much uncertainty in funding for American-made clean energy, and that needs to change.”
The PTC helps keep American wind manufacturers competitive, and it’s modest compared to government support found among most of America’s wind energy competitors. Unfortunately, the PTC has only been extended for one year, creating uncertainty in the industry. Wind energy manufacturers across the country have reduced production and laid off workers since Congress failed to pass a longer extension of the PTC.
Government Support for Manufacturers
Rob White, Chief Innovation Officer with the City of Davis and i-GATE, urged all participants to aggressively seek state and federal grants, but he noted that the greatest successes he has seen require regional stakeholders to partner together for the funds.
“Congressman Garamendi’s leadership in highlighting domestic manufacturing successes was once again demonstrated today at the Digital Technology Lab/MORI SEIKI in Davis,” White said. “DTL’s success as a UC Davis student startup and resulting investment by MORI SEIKI has led to the construction of a 200,000 square feet manufacturing facility of advanced tooling machines used by automotive, transportation, and other mechanized industries. The City of Davis leadership is pleased to have DTL/MORI SEIKI call Davis home and we are grateful to the Congressman for helping us to highlight this success.”
The event also featured representatives from the Small Business Administration and Department of Commerce who outlined services available to help manufacturers. It was noted that in 2013, U.S. exports hit an all-time record of $2.2 trillion and supported 9.8 jobs. An export-oriented growth strategy is essential for American manufacturers to grow and expand their businesses.
As one speaker noted, “Business partnerships are a lot like a marriage. When it’s good, it’s great. When it’s bad, it’s expensive.”
The Department of Commerce stressed that the U.S. Commercial Service exists to help grow American business, offering market research, international market partners, international advertising assistance, trade shows, and more. They cited one trade mission to India, which included 200 U.S. individuals and companies.
Congressman Garamendi also urged participants to look into incentives to hire veterans, including the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, and pledged to continue working on reforms to make it easier for veterans to transition into civilian employment.
“Veterans have very refined skills in practically every industry in America, yet they often don’t meet state certifications without going through redundant and expensive civilian training. Ironically, that training is often less advanced than what the military already provided,” said Garamendi, whose district includes thousands of veterans. With so many returning heroes coming home, there’s a win-win opportunity here for American manufacturers and veterans if we streamline this process and get certified veterans in your workplace.”