On September 4, EPA sponsored and Mayor Walling hosted the Manufacturing Communities Roundtable meeting in Flint, Michigan. The roundtable was part of the White House Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership. Mayor Bernero of Lansing, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Advanced Manufacturing Task Force addressed the audience of over 100 stakeholders. Senator Debbie Stabenow and Congressman Dan Kildee shared their support for investments in workforce development, infrastructure, clean energy opportunities, and tax incentives. Other federal agency partners who joined our conversation in Flint included the Economic Development Administration, the Department of Labor’s Office of Recovery for Auto Communities and Workers, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Department of Energy, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
I was impressed with the level of energy and collaboration at the roundtable. It’s exciting to see strong partnerships forming between federal, state and local governments, private industry, and community non-profit organizations. Stakeholders are rallying to expand ongoing manufacturing operations and attract new manufacturing and jobs in their communities.
The diverse group of participants engaged in discussions about the issues faced by local communities struggling to revitalize and redevelop, such as:
- public-private partnerships and leveraging private investments and public funding;
- the large gap between available workers and available jobs;
- the need to train workers with the skills to fill these jobs;
- the need for safe and reliable infrastructure like roads, railways, ports, water and power to attract these companies; and
- the need for communities to have better access to federal funding.
Several city representatives noted that the redevelopment of brownfields are an important component of their revitalization plans. Brownfields offer the opportunity to build where existing infrastructure is available and where development will have a direct impact on communities. This manufacturing community roundtable was a great step forward in establishing strong partnerships and I am confident that we established a foundation for great collaborative efforts toward investing in manufacturing and developing a strong workforce.
Mathy Stanislaus is the Assistant Administrator in EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (OSWER), leading the Agency’s land cleanup, solid waste and emergency response programs. Mr. Stanislaus is a chemical engineer and environmental lawyer with over 20 years of experience in the environmental field in the private and public sectors. He received his law degree from Chicago Kent Law School and Chemical Engineering Degree from City College of New York.