(This article is a feed from Industry Week Online Edition)
Obama Official Reaches Out to Manufacturers
Lamb-Hale says U.S. industry needs to utilize government programs to tap into new, high-growth markets.
U.S. manufactures are competing on a global chessboard, but too few have diversified their sales in multiple markets, says Nicole Lamb-Hale, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Manufacturing and Services.
Lamb-Hale is tasked with facilitating President Obama's efforts to double U.S. manufacturing exports in the next five years. To do this, she said, industry will need to take advantage of a resource that has been woefully under-utilized: the services of the government.
In a keynote address at the "Pathway to Manufacturing Prosperity Conference" on Thursday in Chicago, held by IndustryWeek and New Equipment Digest, in partnership with the Italian Trade Commission, Lamb-Hale said federal initiatives aimed at increasing U.S. export sales, identifying new customers in emerging markets, and introducing and protecting U.S. technology will be vital for post-recession industry.
"While the U.S. is a major exporter, we are underperforming," said Lamb-Hale. "Currently, fewer than 1% of America's 30 million companies export outside the U.S. There's great potential for improvement."
The problem, she said, is too few companies tap the resources available.
"People don't know what's out there," said Lamb-Hale afterward in an exclusive interview with IndustryWeek. "We have too many secrets in government. That's part of the problem. That's why we need to get out there and show industry the resources that are available."
Lamb-Hale works primarily through the Commerce Department's International Trade Administration (ITA). The Obama administration wants a stronger ITA as a means of advocating for American businesses abroad and will increase its budget by 20% to $540 million in 2011. Lamb-Hale said that the Export-Import Bank of the United States -- which provides export financing when private banks cannot or will not -- will see an increase in the budget for financing small- and medium-size businesses.
"The essence of our function is to convene experts both inside and outside the government to develop solutions to the issues faced by U.S. industry," said Lamb-Hale. "We collaborate with Congress, with agencies across the federal government, and with state and local governments. We have contacts and can connect industry to resources and tools available by the federal government. All these tools can help enhance our competitiveness around the world."