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Bipartisan effort has incentives for employers
By James Heffernan -- firstname.lastname@example.org
U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., and Rep. Frank Wolf, R-10th, have introduced a joint initiative to encourage the creation of new manufacturing jobs in America.
The bipartisan effort includes a competitive grant program for states to recruit companies, additional federal incentives for employers, improved worker training and industry certification, and fast-track financing for businesses to expand exports.
The initiative builds upon Warner's 2010 America Recruits Act, aimed at helping rural and economically distressed areas of the country, and incorporates elements of Wolf's Bring Jobs Back to America Act, designed to reclaim jobs that have been outsourced overseas over the last two decades.
"America's competitors for these solid, good-paying manufacturing jobs are nations like India, China and Korea -- countries which have consistently offered generous incentives to attract investment and jobs," Warner says in a statement. "Our legislation provides more tools for states and localities, allowing them to 'tip the balance' by providing an additional financial incentive and a trained, qualified workforce as employers are considering where to open new factories and hire new workers."
"I believe that a strong manufacturing and technology development base is critical to job creation and the economic competitiveness of the United States," Wolf adds. "However, we have been far too slow in responding to our international economic competitors in this era of global markets and competition.
"This legislation helps to re-focus the United States to be more proactive and a smarter competitor in the global economy -- both in the short-term and long-term," Wolf says. "We cannot afford to wait. Our international competitors aren't."
Specifically, the legislation:
• Creates a competitive grant program for states to provide up to $5,000 in forgivable loans for each new manufacturing job created and maintained for at least five years within rural or economically distressed areas;
• Works with employers to develop training and education programs for specific jobs available at area businesses, strengthening those programs that provide an industry-recognized credential for workers in the advanced manufacturing and information technology industries; and
• Expedites federal financing to allow certain qualifying companies to increase export capacity.
Wolf touted American manufacturing can-do last year during a tour of Thermo Fisher outside Middletown, which recently completed a $9 million addition to its medical diagnostics facility, producing 50 new jobs.
Locally, the manufacturing sector has been resilient in the face of the economic downturn with the opening of Mercury Paper's manufacturing-distribution facility in Strasburg and expansions at the Quebecor World and Kraft Foods plants in Frederick County. And Toray Plastics in Warren County, which makes polyolefin foams for the automotive and flooring markets, is currently receiving assistance from the state to offset the cost of retraining its 90 employees.
But there have been setbacks as well: the closing of General Electric's Winchester Lamp Plant last September in response to new federal lighting efficiency standards; International Automotive Components' decision to ship 110 jobs from Strasburg to Mexico in 2009; and cabinet maker American Woodmark's shuttering of its Berryville and Moorefield, W.Va., plants that same year.