Posted by – Laurie Renaud, Economic Development Coordinator
The International Economic Development Council held their Federal Economic Development Forum in the Washington DC metro area this past week. I had the privilege to attend the conference on behalf of the City of Auburn Hills.
Attendees from all over the United States were there to hear and take part in discussions on workforce development, advanced manufacturing innovations, and exporting efforts. We came together as partners to discuss these issues with policymakers from the Federal Government, Universities, and Economic Development Agencies to address ways to improve efforts on a national level.
There were many accomplishments that put forward good examples and many great ideas to put into action for the subjects that were covered during this forum. It was a learning experience for all that took part.
Workforce development includes many areas. We not only want the STEM (Science, Technologies, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields to grow, but also the soft skills set to grow to complete the manufacturing cycle. We need the research and development, but also need to have the workforce that can put the product to market on the manufacturing side. We need to invest in education on all levels.
One of the goals on the advanced manufacturing side is to change the perception of manufacturing careers. These jobs are not what some picture of dirty factories that are not well lit. Today’s manufacturing jobs are clean, robotic-infused jobs that offer great paying careers for those that may not want to attend a four year college. The skill set is definitely different from the past manufacturing job set. We need to let parents, teachers, and students understand the potential of these careers as a great choice for high paying jobs.
The idea of exporting can be ominous, but there is aid to help businesses maneuver through the system no matter what country fits their exporting needs. For those that aren’t sure of what market potential is best for their product, there is also help offered through our U.S. Export offices to access the data. The benefit of exporting isn’t just going out, but the statistics of benefits created in the U.S. when a company exports is 20-1. The research and development is usually done in the U.S. and the wages of a multi-national company paid in the U.S. are higher according to various experts.
The City of Auburn Hills is very active in making connections and breaking down barriers to help businesses succeed. This forum was excellent as it outlined our role in working together with the nation’s economic developers, universities, and policymakers to assist business growth through a trained workforce, advanced manufacturing innovation, and exporting business. As a result, this collective mindset will only make America’s economy stronger and create jobs.