Area Development
President Barack Obama has announced the creation of a new $500 million initiative--the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP)-as yet another governmental effort designed to create new jobs in America and shore up a languishing economy. Born out of a recommendation by the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, the public-private AMP aims to make the United States a global leader in the biotechnology, robotics and nanotechnology areas of cutting-edge manufacturing

Speaking at Carnegie Mellon's National Robotics Engineering Center, Obama called for "all of us to come together-private-sector industry, universities and the government-to spark a renaissance in American manufacturing and help our manufacturers develop the cutting-edge tools they need to compete with anyone in the world."

The partnership is comprised of various Federal Government entities, six universities and 11 manufacturing companies, including Procter & Gamble Co., Caterpillar Inc., Ford Motor Co., and Northrop Grumman. Susan Hockfield (president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and Andrew Liveris (president and CEO of the Dow Chemical Co.) will head up the project.

Americans have not run out of "stuff to make," remarked Obama. Rather, "we've just got to reinvigorate our manufacturing sector so that it leads the world the way it always has, from paper and steel and cars to new products we haven't even dreamed up yet." In essence, retooling America as a leader in cutting-edge manufacturing will strengthen existing industries and "spark new ones," as well as "create jobs, grow the middle class, and secure our economic leadership."

To launch the AMP, the Administration said it would spend $300 million to build manufacturing capabilities in "critical" national security industries; invest over $100 million in research, training and infrastructure to reduce development time for advanced-materials; earnark $70 million for an advanced robotics program; and provide $120 million to create innovative manufacturing processes that cut energy costs .

Scott Paul, Executive Director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM), said America has been falling behind in manufacturing while the rest of the world aggressively supports its industry, and now is "playing catch-up following decades of neglect." And while linking manufacturers with the latest cutting-edge research at universities and federal agencies "is one step in brightening the prospects for American manufacturing," he said, ".we can't stop there." Paul pointed out that the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership shows a lot of promise. However," the effort will be "futile" unless American manufacturers also receive solid support for myriad challenges facing them, "like unfair trade practices, currency manipulation, developing a skilled workforce, and a more efficient infrastructure."