Industrial Policy and Local Economic Transformation: Evidence From the U.S. Rust Belt

State and local governments frequently invest in policies aimed at stimulating the growth of new industries, but studies of industrial policy and related economic development initiatives cast doubt on their effectiveness. This article examines the role of state-level industrial policies in contributing to the different economic trajectories of two U.S. metro areas—Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Cleveland, Ohio—as they adapted to the decline of their legacy industries.

The Puzzle of the Missing Robots

There is a popular narrative that the rise of automation threatens to displace a large segment of the American workforce. Robots in particular are the object of public concerns about employment. But in most American manufacturing plants—particularly small and medium firms …

Advanced Technology, Advanced Training: A New Policy Agenda for U.S. Manufacturing

U.S. manufacturers report difficulties finding workers with the skills and experience they need. A common response is that workers need more “advanced manufacturing” skills to match the latest production technologies. But more skills alone will not solve the deeper challenges that American manufacturers face.

In this study, we focus on workforce and acquisition policies that can deliver that change. The recommended policies fall in three categories: (i) stimulating demand for skilled workers, (ii) delivering training through partnerships and platforms, and (iii) developing new content and credentials. We propose a new Manufacturing Academy to put the recommendations of this study into action, coordinating and building on the existing workforce activities of the Manufacturing Innovation Institutes.

Strengthening advanced manufacturing innovation ecosystems: The case of Massachusetts

Recent years have brought a renewed focus on the importance of manufacturing to the health and future growth of nations and regions. Several studies have highlighted the need to maintain and build manufacturing capabilities to support economic growth and have linked a nation’s as well as region’s strength in manufacturing to its ability to innovate. In the U.S., where a manufacturing strategy has largely been absent for the past 25years, advanced manufacturing capabilities are now seen as essential to the development of new products and processes across a range of industries. Against this backdrop, Massachusetts presents an interesting case since manufacturing in this U.S. state is integral to several of its most important industry clusters, yet it is a high wage, high costs state that must compete globally. This research examines the pathways and opportunities for building and fostering innovation capacity among Massachusetts manufacturers, with a particular focus on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). We employ a systems approach to conduct analytic and empirical analyses that consider how knowledge and sources of innovation flow between key participants within the manufacturing innovation ecosystem. We find that the Massachusetts manufacturing innovation ecosystem is rich in terms of assets but relatively poor in terms of interconnectedness between those assets. In addition, rather than being focused on demand-driven innovation and technological upgrading for SMEs, non-market state-supported manufacturing intermediaries are primarily focused on supply-side, point solutions that work with individual firms rather than at a systems level.

Innovation and Production: Advanced Manufacturing Technologies, Trends and Implications for US Cities and Regions

Changes in advanced manufacturing technologies as well as the economics of manufacturing have significant implications for the location and spatial organization of production. As firms employ advanced manufacturing technologies to create ‘smart’ and connected factories, engage in mass customization, further integrate R&D with manufacturing to enhance innovation, rethink their supply chains to shorten lead times, and demand higher skills and talent from a range of disciplines, where and how twenty-first century manufacturing occurs opens up in ways that have been largely inconceivable in the past. Countries and regions globally are investing heavily in advanced manufacturing technologies because of their important link to innovation and economic development more broadly. However, the implications of these trends for urban manufacturing are mixed and uneven. While manufacturing jobs continue to decline and strong market cities lose more industrial land to conversions to residential and tech offi ce use, greater access to manufacturing tools and technologies are reducing barriers to entry and a new generation of entrepreneurs, artisans and students are engaging in manufacturing and creating a range of new ‘maker spaces’ in cities. At the same time, the changing economics and emphasis on innovation are making manufacturing in cities and metropolitan areas more feasible for firms in regional industry clusters that rely on advanced manufacturing capabilities. Using a case study from the US state of Massachusetts, this paper proposes a new systems approach for thinking about urban manufacturing that blurs geographic boundaries and looks more closely at the manufacturing innovation ecosystem as a whole and how land-use strategies might support this system.