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'Innovation Hubs' Called a Manufacturing Silver Bullet

A recent Wall Street Journal editorial calls for "Topic-specific, industry-led, and place-based…public-private hubs" as the key to a manufacturing renaissance. The idea is already being tested in four cities.
June 9, 2014, 5am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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"Congress and the White House should go large and create the full proposed network of 45 manufacturing innovation institutes,"

Mark Muro opines on the possibility of innovation institutes: "First proposed in March 2012 and formally requested in President Obama’s 2013 State of the Union address, the National Network of Manufacturing Institutes (NNMI) vision calls for the investment of $1 billion in a set of 15 manufacturing innovation hubs (en route to a projected 45). So far, the government has created four of the hubs using existing money (in Youngstown, Chicago, Detroit, and Raleigh), and initiated the creation of four more, without congressional support. But this is where I want to just say: Go for it! Fund all 45 of the envisioned centers and let’s kick the manufacturing renaissance into high gear!"

As for why, according to Muro, "the manufacturing hubs idea reflects a growing consensus that the nation needs to forge a series of more urgent, technology-specific partnerships between business and academia to solve critical manufacturing problems and develop the next generation of cutting-edge technologies for making new, globally competitive products."

The Brookings Institution, for which Muro works, will release a new report today, June 9, called "The Rise of Innovation Districts." From the Bookings site announcing the report: "In contrast to suburban corridors of isolated corporate campuses, innovation districts combine research institutions, innovative firms and business incubators with the benefits of urban living. These districts have the unique potential to spur productive, sustainable, and inclusive economic development."

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Published on Friday, June 6, 2014 in The Wall Street Journal
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