One of the nation’s top commerce officials was in Utah today admiring the state’s economic development strategies and touting the president’s new initiative designed to bring high-tech manufacturing and clean energy jobs to communities across the country.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank toured Hexcel, a company in West Valley that produces structural materials for aircraft and space vehicles. Blank says Utah has explicitly built the infrastructure necessary to attract this type of industry and create jobs.
“I’m here to say what did you do and how did you do it?," Blank says. "How do I build on this in other communities? What do I tell other communities that want to follow this same model?”
Sophia DiCaro is Deputy Director of the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development. She joined Blank and other government and business leaders to talk about the future of manufacturing in the U.S and how it’s changing.
“You know it’s no longer the blue color perspective from the past," DiCaro says. "It’s now this advanced manufacturing which is very high level, putting us on the map at a global scale. That’s one of the things that makes Utah unique. We do have a plan for innovation.”
While Blank took note of Utah’s successes, she also highlighted a plan included in President Obama’s 2014 budget proposal.
It would provide communities seed money to invest in the infrastructure necessary to attract manufacturing jobs like Hexcel. Blank says that could include roads, bridges and workforce development programs. The plan would also expand programs that market communities to foreign companies.
Blank says both Republicans and Democrats understand the need to get communities at the forefront of attracting manufacturing investment.
“These are not high-cost programs," Blank says. "They’re programs that for a relatively small amount of dollars can leverage quite a bit of economic activity in the U.S.”
The president’s budget proposal is subject to congressional approval.