Saturday, May 07, 2011

Can manufacturing thrive in the city? New Pratt/Brookings report offers strategies

I wrote last month about the late Robert Fitch and his book The Assassination of New York, which, among other things, makes the case that New York too easily sacrificed its manufacturing space.

Last month, the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program and the Pratt Center for Community Development in Brooklyn issued a report, The Federal Role in Supporting Urban Manufacturing, that warns about the conversion of manufacturing land to housing and mentions, among other successful enterprises, the Brooklyn Navy Yard and the Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center.

And, of course, we shouldn't forget that more jobs come from manufacturing than from megadevelopments in which office space (jobs!) is traded for housing.

From the press release:

The report looks at how cities, including New York, have made sure that budding manufacturing businesses have room and resources to grow. The report looks at how cities, including New York, have made sure that budding manufacturing businesses have room and resources to grow. While conventional wisdom says that urban manufacturing is in decline because it's no longer necessary, the Pratt Center/Brookings research found that for decades urban manufacturing has been sidelined by government policies that control the money, land and other resources businesses need to succeed. The report outlines essential steps to put government to work in support of manufacturing instead of against it, and open up job growth where it's most urgently needed—in the cities where the workers, transportation and markets already exist.

To help New York City and State as well as other states and localities better support the needs of small, urban manufacturers, the report recommends that the federal government:

  • Modernize policies to encourage metropolitan areas and states to capitalize on their existing manufacturing assets, support their integration into regional economic clusters, and do a better job of coordinating economic development with sustainability goals;
  • Encourage federally funded state and local workforce organizations to develop and enhance programs that equip workers with skills that match existing and emerging manufacturing jobs;
  • Provide support to states to create advanced manufacturing centers that focus on the research and development of new technologies and help manufacturing firms apply these technologies to their work;
  • Support state and local policies that help small manufacturers expand into new domestic and global markets;
  • Revise Small Business Administration programs to diversify the kind and amount of funding available to small manufacturers; and
  • Revamp programs and policies, such as the rules for Industrial Revenue Bonds, to help revive the market for industrial real estate development in urban areas.

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