U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) visited Bristol manufacturer Arthur G. Russell Company June 3 with CONNSTEP president and CEO Beatriz Gutierrez, where they discussed the future of manufacturing in the state, technology, and the anticipated passage of the Endless Frontier Act.
Blumenthal said the bipartisan bill [which the Senate passed June 9] would quadruple funding for the federal Manufacturing Extension Partnership, a public-private partnership that helps small and medium-sized manufacturers boost their competitiveness.
"The Endless Frontier Act provides money for technology hubs, research, and development, with a lot of it going to exactly the type of equipment being developed here at the Arthur G. Russell Company," Blumenthal said.
"It will continue to make sure we are developing new tools and technology, and provide training for companies like this one in Connecticut.”
Gutierrez called the bill critical, noting the manufacturing is a critical component of Connecticut's economy and key to the state's post-pandemic recovery.
“We’re fortunate to have companies like Arthur G. Russell in the state, building a strong supply chain and working to attract the right people," she said.
"Our MEP system is important as it provides a valuable framework for the necessary tools and training to manufacturers.”
Blumenthal said the bill “will provide billions of dollars to make American manufacturing more competitive with China and protect our intellectual property.”
The senator supports training and education for jobs in manufacturing, adding “you can’t make things if you don’t have the people trained to do it. Automation and artificial intelligence will only get you so far.”
The Endless Frontier Act bill establishes a Directorate of Technology and Innovation in the National Science Foundation with various programs and activities.
The goals are to strengthen the U.S. leadership in critical technologies through basic research in key technology focus areas such as artificial intelligence, high performance computing, advanced manufacturing, and the commercialization of those technologies to businesses in the U.S.
As part of the act, the Department of Commerce will:
- Establish a supply chain resiliency and crisis response program to address supply chain gaps and vulnerabilities in critical industries
- Designate regional technology hubs to facilitate activities that support regional economic development that diffuses innovation around the United States
- Award grants to facilitate development and implementation of comprehensive regional technology strategies
The bill provides nearly $100 billion over five years to institutes such as the NSF, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and others.
Gutierrez said it has been many years since these organizations have seen such a large boost of funding.
AGR president Mark Burzynski said he thinks public/private partnership programs for manufacturing industry training have been successful in other states and would like Connecticut to expand such programs here.
“The public/private partnership model is what’s been successful and we’re willing to participate in that,” he said.
CONNSTEP, an affiliate of CBIA, is a consulting firm helping companies in Connecticut strategically grow their businesses and improve operational methodologies, leading to increased profitability, higher productivity, and creating sustainable competitive advantages in the marketplace.