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Mr. KOHL. Madam President, I am here today to talk about the state of manufacturing in this country, how we can do better, and how we can create more jobs here at home.
The Bring Jobs Home Act is a good bill that will help keep jobs in this country, and help businesses bring more jobs back here at home. It would be especially good for manufacturing--and manufacturing, as we all know, is a critical part of our economy.
A healthy manufacturing sector is key to better jobs, rising productivity, and higher standards of living. Every individual and industry depends on manufactured goods, and the production of these goods creates the quality jobs that keep so many Americans families healthy and strong. That is why we need continued investment in the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, or MEP, as it is called.
Created in 1994, MEP is not just a Federal Government-funded program. MEP is unique in that it is funded almost equally between the States, fees paid by companies that use MEP, as well as the Federal Government. Each year, a bipartisan effort led by Senator Snowe, Senator Lieberman, and myself has worked to secure funding for this important program.
MEP is the only public-private program dedicated to providing technical support and services to small and medium-sized manufacturers, helping them provide quality jobs for American working people. MEP is a nationwide network of proven resources that helps manufacturers compete nationally as well as globally. Simply put, MEP helps manufacturers grow sales, increase profits, and hire more workers.
Throughout our country, day in and day out, MEP is working with small and medium-sized manufacturers to keep jobs here, and also helping existing businesses bring their outsourced jobs back to the United States. Let me say that again, because it bears repeating. Each day, MEP is working with manufacturers to keep jobs here, and bring their outsourced jobs back to the United States.
Our small and medium-sized manufacturers face different challenges than larger companies, especially in this tough economy. The improvements that come to a business from working with an MEP center can make the difference between profitability or shutting their doors.
You would be hard pressed to find another program that has produced the results MEP has. In fiscal year 2010--the most recent data available--MEP clients across the United States reported over 60,000 new or retained workers, sales of $8.2 billion, cost savings of $1.3 billion, and plant and equipment investments of $1.9 billion.
And in a sign of how strong manufacturing is in Wisconsin, the Wisconsin MEP is opening up a third office in my State, this time in Milwaukee. The Milwaukee region--which ranks No. 2 among the Nation's top 50 metropolitan areas for manufacturing employment--is seeing high growth in the food processing, equipment manufacturing, and industrial controls fields. These businesses want to create jobs and grow here in the United States, and they are turning to MEP, a public-private partnership, to help them compete in the global economy. Since 1996, Wisconsin MEP has helped over 1,300 Wisconsin manufacturers make nearly $400 million in improvements in technology, productivity, and profits, helping to generate $2 billion in economic impact, and creating or saving over 14,000 manufacturing jobs.
Many people seem to think the decline of American manufacturing is inevitable. These critics point to high wages and claim that those make us uncompetitive worldwide. I do not agree. Look at Germany and Japan, two countries with high-wage structures, and yet both have a larger manufacturing sector as a portion of their economy than we do. So higher wages are not why we trail Germany and Japan in manufacturing. We have failed to invest in manufacturing and employee training sufficiently to keep up with global competition--and that is the problem.
We do have the tools and the programs available to help grow our economy and bring jobs back to the United States. Workers in Wisconsin and across the country stand ready to get back to work. Programs such as MEP help companies do the right thing for both their country as well as their bottom line--because betting on the American worker is still the best investment in the world.
Madam President, I yield the floor and I suggest the absence of a quorum.
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