Sen. Gillibrand’s new bill would fund private-public partnerships through funding competition
Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - 6:28 am

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand was in the North Country today when she announced new legislation to create a federal funding competition that encourages states and regional public-private partnerships to design and implement strategies that spur growth for local manufacturing industries, particularly in the thriving fields of clean-tech and high-tech manufacturing, and that train workers with the skills that businesses need.

New York State has been crippled by the loss of over 123,000 manufacturing jobs since 2005. In the North Country, an estimated 3,472 manufacturing jobs were lost from 2005 to 2010.

To bolster growth in New York manufacturing, Gillibrand’s bill, called the Made in America Manufacturing Act, would create a competitive program that awards states and regions with funding to support local manufacturers through low-interest loans to build new facilities and upgrade equipment, and access to capital and technical assistance to develop exporting opportunities and to connect innovative small suppliers with larger companies. Funding would also go towards job training and vocational education programs that partner businesses with colleges, local workforce centers and other skill providers to prepare workers for manufacturing jobs.

“It’s time to see ‘Made In America’ again starting right here in New York,” said Gillibrand, a Democrat from Brunswick, near Albany.

“I believe New York’s great manufacturing communities are well positioned to compete for funding that would help carry out their innovative ideas to spark more growth in high-tech manufacturing sectors, jumpstart new businesses, and create good-paying jobs right here where we need them the most.”

"The senator's proposal would provide a thoughtful and balanced new tool for advancing U.S. manufacturing in regions like the North Country," said Garry Douglas, president of the North Country Chamber of Commerce and co-chair, with Clarkson University President Tony Collins, of the North Country Regional Economic Development Council.

"It was a pleasure to work with her as this legislation was refined and prepared for this session, and we want to thank her as well for the many ways she responds to the needs of the North Country, including the changing needs of employers such as International Paper"

In an effort to boost manufacturing, particularly in advanced manufacturing sectors such as nanotechnology, biotechnology, and aerospace, Gillibrand’s first piece of legislation introduced in the new Congress would award up to $20 million in competitive funding for each statewide or regional manufacturing hub.

The Made in America Manufacturing Act would allow localities to use funding to set up a revolving loan fund to help manufacturing businesses expand or establish new manufacturing operations. According to a Commerce Department report, the lack of available capital to manufacturers has especially restricted the ability of many small manufacturers to grow and compete.

The fund would provide manufacturers with direct access to low-interest loans that are below market rate to construct new facilities or to retool, retrofit or expand existing plants, including equipment, infrastructure or energy efficiency upgrades. The federal investment could also help leverage matching funds from the private sector and other non-federal sources.

The bill also would create job training programs to help address the skills gap faced by our manufacturers. By working with community colleges, vocational education programs and job training providers to tailor education and training programs to the skill needs of manufacturers, this program will focus on strategies that train workers for the jobs of the future, and creating more good-paying manufacturing jobs right here in the U.S.

Gillibrand’s legislation would also provide capital and technical assistance to boost exporting opportunities for manufacturers through supporting research and analysis of markets and countries with the greatest potential for expanding business as well as connecting innovative small manufacturers with larger companies as a supplier or to take advantage of government or private sector contracts.