The U.S. is starting to turn the corner, Sen. Stabenow said. “There are many positive things happening,” she said. “But we are starting from a position of being behind on this.” The strategic focus by U.S. companies, the federal government, and states “will get us there,” she said. “We are going to have to be serious and we are going to have to be focused.”
The U.S. now has an Administration “that understands the importance of making things in this country,” Sen. Stabenow said. For more than a decade, the only thing that mattered was cheap prices. Americans did not care where products were made, she said. “We have been losing our middle class as a result of that,” she said. “It matters where things are made. I happen to believe that we can only have a strong economy and middle class if we make things and grow things and add value.”
Government in the U.S. now is working on this, Sen. Stabenow said. We are seeing a different discussion now.” As a member of the President’s Export Council, Sen. Stabenow said she is “enthused” about the efforts to double U.S. exports in the next five years. “We want to export our products, not just our jobs,” she said. “I think that is the focus for us—jobs and innovation here.”
The U.S. still should form global partnerships, Sen. Stabenow said. “We are in a global economy, so of course we partner,” she said. “But we should not take our eye off the fact that we want our jobs here.”
The Recovery Act was really about starting to make the investments needed to bolster U.S. industry, Sen. Stabenow said. Michigan has been a beneficiary, perhaps more so than any other state. She noted that more than $12 billion was invested in advanced vehicle technology in the previous 18 months through the Recovery Act.
About $2.3 billion of that went exclusively to batteries. “I am very proud of the fact that Michigan has received over 50 percent of that money,” she said. “I told the President and Vice President directly that we like that ratio. We would like it with every program.” The Administration has recognized Michigan as the center of advanced battery manufacturing, “and that is great for us in the long run,” she said.
Sen. Stabenow noted that President Obama was in Holland, Mich., recently to celebrate the opening of Compact Power’s facility. Between the Advanced Manufacturing Tax Credit and the efforts around batteries, she noted, some 2,000 jobs are expected to be created in the Holland area over the next few years. The President also visited Chrysler and GM facilities in Wayne County to explain the importance of the U.S. auto industry and the impact of U.S. investments.
The investments are important not only for OEMs, Sen. Stabenow said. They also are important for suppliers. “If we did not have an American automobile manufacturing industry, the ripple effect across all of our suppliers and all of our industries would be absolutely devastating.”
A123 is a “great story” about bringing business back from Asia, Sen. Stabenow said. The company is opening a new plant in Livonia, near the site of