Accelerating Advanced Manufacturing with New Research Centers

Howard Wial
Howard Wial Former Brookings Expert

February 8, 2011

Manufacturing remains a critical sector for the economic health of the nation as a whole and for the states. The sector accounts for the bulk of U.S. exports, is key to innovation, and provides many high-wage jobs for less educated workers. So reversing or at least stemming manufactur­ing job losses is essential to an economic recovery that leads to a sustained period of export-oriented, innovation-fueled, opportunity-rich economic growth.

For these and other reasons, manufacturing should be an important part of state job growth strategies. But state efforts are not focused on one of the things that small and medium-sized manufacturers need most: help with developing and implementing new technologies.

To remedy this problem, states should create advanced manufacturing centers that research technological problems that are important to a wide range of manufacturers help businesses throughout the supply chain apply the results to their work. These cen­ters would take only a modest investment of $9 million per year, which is a small share of what states typically spend on traditional business attraction efforts.