Yesterday, President Barack Obama traveled to the U.S. manufacturing headquarters of LED lighting company Cree to meet and participate in a progress report from his appointed Jobs and Competiveness Council.  The White House Blog provided a detailed commentary of the event.

Supply Chain Matters readers may recall our previous commentary regarding the Council, and its chairperson, Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of General Electric. GE paid zero taxes in 2010, and that led others to question his leadership of the Council. Mr. Immelt however, understands manufacturing and supply chain disciplines and we continue to trust that the Council also understands them as well.

Yesterday, there were some announcements that came forward, including an all-hands-on-deck strategy to train 10,000 new American engineers every year. Other ideas presented to the President included an energy retrofitting program to make commercial buildings more energy efficient, and to build workforce skills in advanced manufacturing, among others

Supply Chain Matters applauds the progress of the Council thus far, but we hasten to add that the substance and timetable of initiatives needs to be stepped-up considerably, and with less political overtone.  Partnerships between government, private industry and academic institutions to train workers for required skills are especially important.  It is also rather important at this juncture for the Council to put more substance and specifics into the words, and not at six month increments.

The White House blog noted that the president indicated he was not satisfied with the pace of job creation in the United States and that is an obvious acknowledgement of national polls indicating an overall frustration with lack of U.S.  job growth.  While the U.S. manufacturing sector has been on a rebound, there is certainly more progress to be made.  More importantly we believe are more aggressive initiatives to build world-class supply chain networks for critical growth industries as well as needed investments in U.S. logistics infrastructure.

Later this year, the Jobs Council plans to deliver an American Jobs Plan to the President.  A statement from the Council cites three major areas to address structural deficiencies in the U.S. economy:

  • Building the systems of competitiveness such as R&D investment, tax policy, visa reform and other required needs.
  • Improving the tone and breaking down the silos between Americans about Business, Labor and Government, including listening and action sessions throughout the country.
  • Bending the curve on unemployment which includes an emphasis on fast-growth companies and small businesses, along the need to address the competitiveness of America’s infrastructure.

We believe that the latter initiative which includes addressing infrastructure should be a focus of a concerted, bi-partisan effort to invest in world-class transportation and logistics infrastructure that improves the ability of U.S. manufactured goods to reach domestic and global markets in the most efficient and energy-sensitive manner.

Bob Ferrari