Brown Announces New Bill Providing $30 Billion in Funds to Help Auto Suppliers, Manufacturers Retool for Clean Energy Jobs

In Anticipation of Comprehensive Energy and Climate Legislation, Senator Joins Business, Environmental Leader to Announce Plan to Respond to Industry Credit Crisis, Invest in Domestic Clean Energy Manufacturing

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As Congress weighs sweeping energy and climate legislation, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced a new bill that would create a $30 billion revolving loan program to help auto suppliers and other small and mid-sized manufacturers retool for the clean energy industry. Brown’s bill would also expand the focus of the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) to include support for manufacturers transitioning to the clean energy economy.

 “We can revive American manufacturing through investments in clean energy,” Brown said. “This bill will help our manufacturers retool, put our auto suppliers back to work, and produce clean energy technologies.”

The domestic manufacturing industry helped build our nation’s middle class and is critical to national security. It accounts for 12 percent – $1.6 trillion – of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) and nearly three-fourths of the nation’s research and development. Despite this, the U.S. manufacturing industry has contracted for 16 consecutive months. Since 1987, manufacturing’s share of GDP has declined more than 30 percent. According to the Federal Reserve Board, manufacturing output fell 2.7 percent in January 2009 to a level 13.1 percent below that of only 12 months earlier. Last month, nearly half of the nation’s job losses were tied to manufacturing. Manufacturers continue to face a reduction in demand and a lack of capital due to the financial crisis. A May survey found that more than 70 percent of manufacturers anticipate difficulties securing credit to purchase raw material and rehire workers as business conditions improve.

The Investments for Manufacturing Progress and Clean Technology (IMPACT) Act of 2009 would establish a $30 billion Manufacturing Revolving Loan Fund. States would receive funds for the establishment of revolving loan programs to assist small and medium-sized firms in retooling, expanding or establishing domestic clean energy manufacturing operations, and improving energy efficiency.

The bill would also modernize the MEP, the federal-state partnership which provides support to small and mid-sized manufacturers. Currently, our nation’s 59 MEP centers receive slightly more than $100 million in federal funds each year, with states matching the federal contribution two-to-one. Brown’s bill would provide the MEP program with $1.5 billion in federal funds over five years to help manufacturers diversify to clean energy markets and adopt innovative, energy efficient manufacturing technologies.

Under the bill, the federal share of MEP funding would increase to 50 percent. Based on the MEP’s current average cost per consultation, the additional federal funding in this bill could enable MEP to reach at least 10,000 additional U.S. manufacturers each year.

Brown was joined today by clean energy, business, and labor leaders in announcing this initiative. The IMPACT Act is supported by the Apollo Alliance, Alliance for American Manufacturing, Blue Green Alliance, Campaign for America’s Future, Environmental Defense Fund, High Road Strategies, International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Manufacturing Skill Standards Council, MAPA Group, Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Policy Matters Ohio & Ohio Apollo, Precision Metalforming Association (PMA), Shepherd Advisors, Solar Energy Industries Association, United Steelworkers, and United Automobile Workers.

“The wide-spread fallout from Chrysler and GM continues to devastate communities across the country, which is why we need to do everything we can to help our suppliers,” Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), a cosponsor of the legislation said. “I am pleased this legislation will help these companies make investments in clean energy technologies, promoting a 21st Century manufacturing strategy that will create jobs in the emerging green economy.”

“The only way to put our existing manufacturing sector to work and to scale up to meet the new demand created by the cap-and-trade program is to have a dedicated source of funding for investments in component manufacturing,” Phil Angelides, Chairman of the Apollo Alliance said. “We are proud to support Sen. Brown’s bill, which will allow manufacturers across the country to tap into clean and efficient energy markets.”

“Building a clean energy economy provides an opportunity to revitalize manufacturing in the United States, and this legislation will help us to take advantage of that opportunity,” David Foster, Executive Director of the Blue Green Alliance said. “The IMPACT Act will ensure the development of long-term manufacturing capacity in the United States — providing investment opportunities for manufacturers to retool and expand their manufacturing facilities in the production of clean energy technologies. We commend Senator Brown for introducing legislation that is so critical to ensuring that the clean energy economy helps to rebuild America’s middle class.

“MEMA commends Senator Brown for introducing this important piece of legislation,” Ann Wilson, Sr. Vice President of Government Affairs for the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA) said. “MEMA supports the establishment of a revolving loan program which will provide vital assistance to small and medium suppliers to retool facilities to make energy efficient components and will help suppliers provide components to assist automakers comply with upcoming federal fuel economy standards.  We look forward to working with the Senator on this bill.”
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