EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

May 11, 2014

Column: Innovation keeps regional manufacturing strong

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Another prime example is footwear, which was recently given a boost after a U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) decision, prompted by legislation I have championed for several years. The DOD announced on April 25 they would be closing a loophole that allowed recruits to purchase non-American made footwear. This went against a decades-old law requiring America’s military to use American-made equipment.

Companies like New Balance right here in the 3rd District have developed the dedication, workforce, methodology and resources to produce quality 100-percent Made in America footwear. DOD policy change will boost job growth, spur economic development and innovation and give service members better gear. Most importantly, it keeps American business on American soil.

Manufacturing innovation is also evident in the clean energy sector. Across Massachusetts there are numerous companies that manufacture components for wind or solar energy equipment, employing thousands of people in the process. Lawrence’s Solectria Renewables, for example, produces an intricate component for solar panels that is used in solar fields across the country.

In his most recent State of the Union address, President Obama noted the need to make innovation and domestic manufacturing the heart of our economic recovery. He announced he would be launching six more hubs for high-tech manufacturing. Massachusetts should be one of those hubs, and I have sent letters of support to the administration on behalf of joint proposals offered by our universities and high-tech firms.

It will take public-private partnerships on the part of our academic institutions and businesses to maintain and expand the progress we have already seen.

But the industrious spirit of those mill workers remains -- the opportunity for the next generation of innovation is right here in the 3rd District.

Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, D-Lowell, represents the 3rd District.

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