Investing in Manufacturing to Grow Ohio’s Middle Class

We know that manufacturing jobs are a ticket to the middle class.

They are critical to the economy of our state and our nation, and I joined President Obama in Cleveland this week to highlight the strength of Ohio manufacturing, and announce a new $500 million manufacturing investment.

That investment includes $150 million for a textiles-focused manufacturing innovation hub. Leading manufacturers, universities, and non-profits will be able to compete for the $150 million in public and private funding to form a manufacturing hub specifically dedicated to fibers and textiles technologies.

In an era of stagnating wages and a shrinking middle class, investing in manufacturing jobs is more important than ever, particularly in Ohio. Since 2000, Ohio’s middle class has shrunk by more than five percentage points — the second-largest drop in the country. While worker productivity has increased over the past thirty years, wages have remained stagnant.

But we know that manufacturing jobs can lift families up into our middle class and help them stay there. It has the strongest multiplier effect of any industry, with ever $1.00 spent in manufacturing adding $1.48 to the entire economy.

That’s why I worked to pass into law the Revitalizing American Manufacturing and Innovation (RAMI) Act, which provides funding for a National Network of Manufacturing Innovation made up of advanced manufacturing hubs. These hubs bring together industry, universities and community colleges, federal agencies, and all levels of government to leverage resources and spur innovation.

And it’s why I was excited to be in Brooklyn, Ohio last week to announce that we saved more than 160 jobs in textile manufacturing, helping broker a deal to save the jobs Hugo Boss plant. Our work to save this plant — working cooperatively with both companies, with Workers United and its leaders, and with the local community — can serve as a model for how we can save and create new manufacturing jobs. Announcements like this are victories not only for workers and their families, but for entire communities.

We need a manufacturing policy that invests in our workers and rebuilds our middle class. Investments like the ones President Obama announced last week are a down payment on our future, and will help build and sustain an economy that works for all Ohioans.