# Manufacturing

America: We Need a National Manufacturing Strategy

(I think it's important that we take a hard look at how we bring manufacturing, particularly GREEN manufacturing, back to Iowa's rural communities.  Thought this could essentially be an open thread. - promoted by Mark Langgin)

What did you buy this week? Now – how many of those items were made in America? Not many, I bet. Because even if we wanted to, most of us would be hard-pressed to buy only American-made products.

While U.S. jobs are steadily shipped overseas, the tidal wave of foreign-made goods in our stores and in our homes has become as regular as the tide. And that's a big problem for our country.

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Electric cars to be built in Webster City

Webster City got some good news on the green jobs front Monday:

EnVision Motor Company announced today that it will ship electric vehicles assembled at a facility in New York to a plant in Webster City. Workers in Webster City will finish the vehicles by installing the electric drive train.  EnVision president and C.E.O. Thomas Gleisner says these electric vehicles can reach a top speed of about 85 miles an hour. […]

These Electric Mobile Cars – EMC’s – can go about 200 miles on a charge, depending on how fast you drive, how much weight the vehicle is carrying and how much the vehicle has to battle wind friction. […]

Gleisner’s company, EnVision, is the U.S. distributor of these European-designed vehicles. The completed vehicle will roll off the assembly line at Auto Manufacturing Systems in Webster City, an already-existing plant.

As production ramps up, this deal is expected to create at least 300 jobs in Webster City. The Des Moines Register reported that the assembly line will use “factory space now occupied by Eagle Manufacturing, an Electrolux subcontractor. […] Eagle, a manufacturing company that now performs a variety of contract duties for Electrolux, is scheduled to lose that work by the end of next year.” In October 2009, Electrolux announced plans to close plants in Webster City and Jefferson, eliminating about 850 jobs by early 2011.

From a statement released by the governor’s office:

“We at EnVision were born and raised in Iowa. We could have easily gone outside Iowa and the United States, but we wanted to add jobs to Iowa, our home,” said EnVision CEO Thomas Gleisner. “We could not look past the ability of a community like Webster City to meet our needs. They have the experience and the workforce, and they have been involved in quality manufacturing for decades.”

EnVision is a distributor of electric vehicles for the entire United States. Auto Manufacturing Systems of Webster City will run the plant. Its parent company is Electric Mobile Cars, an importer based in New York.

City and business leaders in Webster City have also been recruiting employers in the renewable energy field to try to replace some of the Electrolux jobs. The city of Newton attracted some wind manufacturing following Maytag’s demise a few years ago.

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High Road or Low Road in Renewable Energy Manufacturing?

(Hadn't heard about this story. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

Hundreds of thousands of jobs will be created in renewable energy manufacturing. Will these employment opportunities be “high-road,” decent-paying union jobs, or will employers take the “low road”–tapping into the desperation of unemployed workers who have already seen too much pain?”  The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers is not giving up on bringing organized labor’s opportunities to workers in the sector, despite a recent setback.

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The odds in favor of a good climate change bill just improved

An earthquake hit Capitol Hill today, as the House Democratic caucus voted 137 to 122 to make Representative Henry Waxman of California chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. He will replace Representative John Dingell of Michigan, who has served in the House for more than 50 years (after his father represented the same district for more than two decades).

Dingell has been the top Democrat on the panel for 28 years and is an old-school supporter of the auto industry. Waxman has complained that the committee has been too slow to address environmental issues like global warming.

“The argument we made was that we needed a change for the committee to have the leadership that will work with this administration and members in both the House and the Senate in order to get important issues passed in health care, environmental protection, in energy policy,” Waxman said after the vote.

“The next two years are critical,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., who spoke on Waxman’s behalf in the closed-door caucus. “It’s not personal. It’s about the American people demanding that we embrace change and work with the president on critical issues of climate change and energy and health care.”

This is more important than the Senate Democrats caving to Joe Lieberman on Tuesday.

It’s an excellent sign that the new Congress will be serious about progressive change. I had read yesterday that freshman Democrats were overwhelmingly for Waxman, while the Blue Dogs and Congressional Black Caucus were mostly for Dingell.

It’s unfortunate that Dingell has spent several decades trying to shield the big three American automakers from government regulation on fuel efficiency and other matters. If he had not “protected” them for so long, maybe U.S.-made cars would be more desirable for more consumers, and the automakers would not be on the brink of bankruptcy.

Of course, our employer-based health care system is another major drag on American manufacturers. With any luck we will be able to help uninsured Americans and major industry at the same time by passing universal health care reform.

Congratulations to Waxman for taking the first step in what will no doubt be a long slog.

UPDATE: A Siegel is encouraged by Obama’s speech to the recent bipartisan governors’ summit on climate change. Click the link for more details and the text of the speech.

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