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Secretary of Commerce Unveils U.S. Manufacturing Strategy; Names Interim Point Person for Mfg.

Monday, January 19, 2004
 
By Louis A. Kren, Senior Editor, MetalForming magazine
U.S. Commerce Secretary Donald Evans, using the backdrop of Lincoln Electric Co., Euclid, OH, and flanked by scores of Lincoln employees, industry representatives and elected officials, unveiled the Bush administration’s manufacturing report this past Friday. Manufacturing in America—A Comprehensive Strategy to Address the Challenges to U.S. Manufacturers is based on input from more than 20 roundtables the department conducted with American manufacturers over the past six months. In discussing the strategy, Evans focused on the need for a level worldwide playing field for U.S. manufacturers, and the need for a full-time government position focused solely on manufacturing advocacy as well as policy creation and implementation. At a roundtable with industry officials prior to his speech, Evans announced that Under Secretary for the International Trade Administration Grant Aldonas would serve in an interim capacity as point person for manufacturers until Congress passes the legislation to create and fund the position of Assistant Secretary of Manufacturing and Services. “This is our strategy to remove the barriers that are holding back American manufacturers and costing jobs,” said Evans. “This report is a single step in an ongoing process: ensuring that American companies are competitive in every part of the world.” The strategy carries six main themes: 1. Creating the conditions for economic growth and manufacturing investment. This includes making recent tax cuts permanent; simplifying the tax system while reducing the cost of compliance; making the research and experimentation tax credit permanent; and expanding access to lower-cost capital. 2. Lowering the cost of manufacturing in the United States. This aspect focuses on review and reform of existing regulations; lower health-care costs; tort reform; and new energy legislation designed to increase energy reliability and affordability. 3. Investing in innovation. Key points here include strengthening the patent system to enhance intellectual-property protection; reviewing manufacturing-related federal R&D programs to ensure an appropriate focus on innovation and productivity enhancement; supporting a manufacturing extension partnership; promoting manufacturing technology transfer; and exploring the unique capabilities of national laboratories and universities. 4. Strengthening education, retraining and economic diversification. This would include establishing a high-school and technical-education partnership initiative; assessing the training needed to succeed in manufacturing in the future; establishing personal re-employment accounts; coordinating the efforts of federal agencies in addressing challenges faced by manufacturing-dependant communities; and transforming workforce-development programs. 5. Promoting open markets and a level playing field. This aspect of the plan seeks to encourage the adoption of growth-oriented economic policies, the integration of financial markets and the phase out of government subsidies and other market-distorting practices; pursue trade agreements that benefit U.S. manufacturers; enforce trade agreements and combat unfair trade practices; and promote the sale of U.S.-manufactured products in global markets. 6. Enhancing government’s focus on manufacturing competitiveness. This invloves establishing a President’s Manufacturing Council; creating an Assistant Secretary of Commerce for manufacturing and Services; forming an Office of Industry Analysis; and fostering coordination between federal, state and local governments. Manufacturing in America—A Comprehensive Strategy to Address the Challenges to U.S. Manufacturers, both the full report and synopsis, are available at the Department of Commerce website, www.commerce.gov.
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Hobart Institute Offers Course for Robot Operators

Friday, January 16, 2004
 
The Hobart Institute of Welding Technology, Troy, OH, has introduced a new course for robot operators, designed to give programmers and operators the basics in welding technology needed to reduce reject rates and increase hourly output of good welded parts. The 1-week course, Welding Introduction for Robot Operators and Programmers, emphasizes hands-on skill training with solid wire and metal-cored wire, to learn the effects of process variables such as electrode extension, electrode angles, weld travel speed, welding current and voltage, shielding gas and wire diameter. The institute can also bring the course on the road, to a corporate location. Learn more at www.welding.org.
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Mark Concepts Gains QS-9000 Certification

Friday, January 16, 2004
 
Metal fabricator and stamper Mark Concepts, Inc., Dayton, OH, has earned QS-9000 certification, adding to its ISO 9002 registration earned in 1998. The firm operates a tool shop, CNC turret presses, shears, coil feeders and straighteners, NC press brakes to 100 tons, arc-welding booths, 19 stamping presses to 525 tons, and an assembly plant. It’s online at www.MarkConcepts.com.
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