Washington’s newly touted “Hub” initiative seeks to rejuvenate American manufacturing and restore lost jobs to an industry which has experienced significant losses in recent years. President Obama first called on Congress in his 2013 State of the Union to create a network of manufacturing hubs across the nation. And he once again called for them in yesterday's address.
Manufacturing hubs will bring industry leaders, universitie, and federal research together under one roof to help develop the next generation of American manufacturing. The idea is that the regional level is the best place to work on technology-based development. Each region then needs to be anchored by hubs to solve our toughest problems.
The first hub was launched in Ohio last year to develop and train workers in 3-D printing technology. Just last week, a new hub in Raleigh, North Carolina, is slated to develop what are known as wide bandgap semiconductors. Simply put, semiconductors are at the heart of every piece of electronics we use daily and wide bandgap semiconductors use up to 90 percent less power and can operate at higher temperatures than normal semiconductors. The result is manufacturers being able to make products smaller, faster, and cheaper.
The program is currently being funded with $200 million in existing federal money, and two new hubs are expected to be announced in the coming weeks. It is unknown if these hubs will actually spur job creation or drive the American manufacturing renaissance forward. Proponents to the program believe that there are other economic alternatives the government could be doing, such as lowering the corporate tax rate or speeding up the permitting for shale and oil production, which would bring down the cost of energy and attract energy-intensive manufacturing.
No matter what the solution is, harnessing American innovation through a program of collective experts is the right step forward.
Tim Murphy is an accountant in Katz, Sapper & Miller's Audit and Assurance Services Department, which is comprised of individuals skilled at evaluating business and control risks for clients.