New Federal Law To Provide Boost to Manufacturing
Despite its outward appearance, what goes on inside Atlas Tool Works is a far cry from when Zach Mottl’s great-grandfather started the company in 1918.
What looks like “just an old factory” turns out components for a weapon aiming system used on U.S. military aircraft, Internet switching equipment and the chassis and frame for a robotic device, Xenex, that uses ultraviolet light to disinfect hospital rooms, Mottl, a co-owner of the company, said.
The family-owned factory in Lyons was the backdrop Monday to announce what Mottl called the nation’s first “cohesive and forward-looking manufacturing template.”
Legislation pursued for the last five years by U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-3rd, and signed into law last week would establish a plan, updated every four years, to promote American manufacturing.
The American Competitiveness Act was approved as part of omnibus legislation that provided funding to keep the federal government operating through September. Support for the manufacturing bill in the House and Senate shows that “Washington is finally starting to get it,” Lipinski said of manufacturing’s importance to the economy.
“We cannot let manufacturing falter,” he said.
U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., who had introduced the measure in the Senate, where it ran into roadblocks in past years, joined Lipinski at the news conference and called manufacturing the “beating heart of the Illinois economy.” The bill was approved by the House three times during the past five years.
Starting in 2018, and being updated every four years thereafter, the administration would produce and publish a plan to bolster the country’s manufacturing base, Lipinski said.
He said manufacturing experts from the public and private sectors would, in concert with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, “assess the state of American manufacturing” and “make recommendations for coordinated policies.”
Lipinski said the coordinated effort would help sort out a complex, and sometimes contradictory, maze of programs and policies that can hamstring manufacturers.
He said there should be no additional cost associated with creating the manufacturing strategy, as it would be accomplished with personnel from existing federal agencies and departments and manufacturing experts would volunteer their services.
Mottl said other countries have “clear and detailed manufacturing strategies,” and that this new law “brings (the U.S.) in line with our economic peers.”
Bill Hickey, president of Lapham-Hickey Steel in Bedford Park, which supplies steel to Atlas, said that despite accounting for 12 to 15 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product, manufacturing has been “ignored” by policymakers, and there hasn’t been, up to now, a coordinated effort to support the sector.
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