Brookings Now

A Clear Need for Reinvesting in Manufacturing

Fred Dews and Elina Saxena

There is a “clear need for reinvesting in our manufacturing sector to take advantage of some of the broader underlying economic trends,” said Jason Miller, the White House special assistant to the president for manufacturing policy, in his keynote address at yesterday afternoon’s John White, Jr. Forum on Public Policy on regional manufacturing hubs.

* UPDATE: Read Tech Tank blog’s new re-cap of the event, “Why American Manufacturing is Vital to Future Prosperity.”

The program was introduced by Darrell West, vice president and director of Governance Studies and the Douglas Dillon Chair, who spoke about the economic benefits of manufacturing:

John White, Jr., president and CEO of Taco, Inc. and a Brookings Trustee, introduced Miller, the keynote speaker, and moderated an audience Q&A session with him. White explained that “Manufacturing is in my blood.” Watch:

Miller stressed that any discussion of manufacturing must take place within the context of the economy overall. He also described the three elements of economic policy that grow out of this context:

  1. Continue to spur growth job creation in order to reach its overall potential.
  2. Increase potential economic growth going forward.
  3. Work to ensure that economic growth is broadly shared, and that opportunities exist for everyone who works hard and plays by the rules.


Building off of his discussion of the economic benefits of manufacturing, Miller stressed the importance of manufacturing in “providing high quality jobs and promoting the middle class.” First, manufacturing “plays a broader employment role in the econom”” that creates high quality jobs throughout the supply chain. Watch:

“Manufacturing is inextricably linked to our country’s ability to innovate,” he said.

Finally, Miller noted that the decline in manufacturing “caused our job loss and trade deficit.” He then laid out the four pillars that broadly define the administration’s agenda:

Miller’s address was followed by two panels, both of which were moderated by West, who also directs the Center for Technology and Innovation at Brookings. The first panelists discussed the future of innovation and manufacturing and the lessons for manufacturing communities, featuring Mike Garvey, president of M-7 Technologies, and Ed Morris, director of America Makes and vice president of the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining.

Members of the second panel—Mike Russo, director of government relations at GlobalFoundries, and Caralynn Nowinsky, COO at UI Labs—discussed digital manufacturing and design innovation.

Watch the full event here.