Thursday, May 19, 2022

Deputy Commerce Secretary Joins Michigan Lawmakers to Make the Case for the Bipartisan Innovation Act

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The Bipartisan Innovation Act includes $52 billion to invest in domestic semiconductor production. Getty Images

Passing this legislation will help secure supply chains and create economic opportunities for all Americans, officials said.

Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves traveled to Michigan on Monday to meet with top Wolverine State lawmakers to discuss ways both to fix supply chains and jump start small and medium manufacturers.  

Graves, flanked by Sens. Gary Peters (D) and Debbie Stabenow (D), Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D), Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, urged Congress to support the Bipartisan Innovation Act, a bill designed to make a generational investment in America’s entrepreneurs and employees, including by investing $52 billion in the domestic semiconductor industry.

“Every day we delay passing the Bipartisan Innovation Act, we fall further behind. China is moving at lightning speed to dominate semiconductor production globally,” Graves said. “Not only is this a threat to our national security, but a serious challenge workers and businesses in Detroit at the vanguard of electric vehicle manufacturing. Fixing our chip shortage will tamper inflation, decrease auto prices, and bring jobs back to the Motor City. EVs are the future of auto manufacturing, and it’s fundamentally a question of whether we want those jobs here in America or somewhere else.”

That legislation also can help elevate opportunities for underserved communities and minority-owned businesses, Graves argued. 

“It’s no secret that this pain at the pump, grocery store, and on main street is hitting minority and low-income communities the hardest. But we also have options that will reduce costs, create jobs and rebuild our supply chains by engaging America’s greatest competitive advantage—our diversity,” Graves said. “By passing the Bipartisan Innovation Act and making full use of the many tools already at our disposal, we can create good-paying jobs and workforce development opportunities for people of color, all while creating a vibrant manufacturing ecosystem where minority-owned businesses can thrive.”

We talk a lot about how important American manufacturing is — you could say it’s in the name — but manufacturing is especially essential in Michigan. Manufacturing makes up nearly 20% of the state’s economy and accounts for 15% of all jobs, according to the Commerce Department. 

Unfortunately, Michiganders have learned firsthand what happens when American workers play second fiddle to corporations who offshore jobs and foreign actors who don’t play by the rules. More than 260,000 manufacturing jobs were lost in Michigan between 2000 and 2020, according to the Commerce Department.  

“As home to the Big Three Automakers, Michiganders are uniquely aware of our supply chain challenges and semiconductor shortage,” Lawrence said. “If America is going to stay competitive globally, we have to start making critical goods in America with American workers.” 

Downsizing hasn’t just impacted big name manufacturers; some of the worst effects can be felt downstream. Over the past 25 years, the United States has lost 25% of its small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and seen a 35% decline in capital invested in its industrial base, Commerce reports. 

But more recently, this trend has begun to change. In the past year and a half, the United States has added 545,000 new manufacturing jobs – and while many of these came from the COVID recovery – this has not been seen in over 30 years.  

And the Bipartisan Innovation Act will work overtime creating more jobs, according to the Commerce Department.  

From semiconductors to scientific advancement, the legislation aims to build on America’s manufacturing comeback and make sure businesses stay (and relocate) here.

“For too long, other countries have been outpacing the United States in funding new technologies. We are at a critical moment in this competition to secure our leadership in the next generation of manufacturing,” Stabenow said.

The bill also aims to find ways to identify supply chain weaknesses before they become problems, including by establishing a Supply Chain Resilience Program that will map and monitor critical supply chains. Plus, it will invest in critical areas, like semiconductors, which are essential to keep factories up and running.

“The semiconductor shortage is causing massive supply chain disruptions and has idled auto plants in Michigan and across the country, harming our workers,” Peters said. “We must invest in and expand domestic semiconductor production to reduce our reliance on foreign manufacturing and boost our economy.”

And should it become law, the Bipartisan Innovation Act will expand efforts to help small manufacturers and start-ups to hit the ground running. The Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), which is overseen by the Commerce Department, “helped create and retain 4,255 jobs and generated more than $316 million in new and retained sales” last year.  

The Bipartisan Innovation Act also hopes to diversify the talent and opportunity in manufacturing to open the door to greater opportunity for all Americans. Of Michigan’s 12,000 employer-manufacturers, for example, 10,637 are small businesses, but only 491 employer-manufacturers are minority-owned. 

In Michigan, the bill would appropriate $43 billion to the Economic Development Agency to help the Great Lakes region specifically. Additionally, the law will make permanent the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) that was established through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and will dedicate funds to the Small Business Administration, including $10 billion for Michigan’s state bank over the next decade.

It’s time for Congress to get this vital legislation across the finish line, and you can help: Take action and tell your Members of Congress to support the Bipartisan Innovation Act. 

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