Collins backs legislation to boost manufacturing

The Livingston County News

March 24, 2015

Congressman Chris Collins. R-Clarence, says the bipartisan Manufacturing Universities Act will help colleges and universities help students fill a need for qualified manufacturing workers.

The bill is sponsored by Collins, Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty, and others.

“As a small business owner who worked in manufacturing for over 35 years, I understand the difficulty in training and finding qualified manufacturing workers,” Collins said in a statement. “To expand manufacturing in Western New York, we need to have a workforce capable of filling these skilled jobs. I am proud to join Rep. Esty in introducing this bipartisan legislation that will provide partnering colleges and universities the resources necessary to equip their students with the skills needed to succeed in manufacturing.”

Esty said that manufacturers often struggle to find workers with the right skill sets.

“By providing additional support for manufacturing in engineering programs at colleges and universities, we can prepare the next generation of engineers for exciting—and in-demand—manufacturing jobs,” she said.

The bill would establish a Manufacturing Universities program within the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology. Colleges and universities with existing engineering programs would be eligible to apply for the Manufacturing University designation, which would include up to $5 million annually for four years to improve engineering programs with an emphasis on manufacturing, increase the number of joint projects with manufacturing firms, and support students who participate in cooperative education and apprenticeships with manufacturers.

The bill has the support of the State University of New York, said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher.

 “SUNY proudly supports the Manufacturing Universities Act of 2015 as it helps pave the way for the advancement of manufacturing efforts across the country,” Zimpher said in a statement. “We thank Representative Collins and Representative Etsy for their leadership recognizing the valuable role public universities play in educating and training students for the 21st century workforce.”

The Manufacturing Universities Act has been referred to the U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee. The bill is bipartisan and bicameral. The other House cosponsors are Reps. Patrick Meehan (R-PA), Paul Tonko (D-NY), Rodney Davis (R-IL), and Mike Thompson (D-CA). The companion bill in the Senate was introduced by Sens. Chris Coons (D-DE), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH).

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