San Diego’s Maritime Industry is Becoming Increasingly Important to the Region

April 15th, 2014

While we all know that San Diego has a world-class port that is the gateway to the Pacific and the growing markets of Asia and Latin America, most don’t realize that its maritime industry “represents one of the most unique regional economies in the world with more than 1,400 companies producing over $14 billion of direct sales and a workforce of almost 46,000 spread across an array of traditional and technology-oriented sectors.” The knowledge of how important that the maritime industry clusters has become to the regional economy was made clear to me when  I recently came across a report that was released in 2012:  the San Diego Maritime Industry Report, sponsored by the San Diego Workforce Partnership, (SDWP) San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation (SDREDC), and The Maritime Alliance (TMA).

The survey portion of the project was conducted over a period of four weeks during May and June 2012. It involved quantitative economic analysis of data from proprietary business resources (such as Info-USA and Dun and Bradstreet), standard data from the BLS and Census Bureau, and first-hand information from San Diego-based ERISS Corporation through numerous in-person and telephone interviews and both a telephone and an online survey of more than 230 companies.

San Diego’s Maritime Industry and related economic activity comprise what is being called the “Blue Economy.” The maritime technology or “Blue Tech” cluster  “includes nearly 200 separate NAICS (North American Industry Classification System) codes and includes businesses in sectors as obvious as fishing and as surprising as metal forging.”

The 84-page report divides the Blue Economy into three general categories of the functional organization of San Diego’s Maritime Industry:

  • The traditional maritime space, in which industries are exclusively maritime, such as fishing and ship building
  • The traditional maritime space, in which an industry includes maritime and non-maritime activity, such as construction industries capable of working on ports
  • The maritime technology space, or “Blue Tech”

The analysis suggests an estimated 46,000 employees work in San Diego’s Maritime Industry:

  • Total employment (September, 2011) 45,778
  • Traditional maritime exclusive industries 8,176
  • Maritime technology industries “Blue Tech” 18,948
  • Other maritime 18,654  (in traditional industries that include maritime activities but are not exclusively maritime)

Shipbuilding and ship repair provide the most jobs, 6,127, followed by Testing Laboratories, 3,689, R&D in Physical, Engineering, & Life Sciences (exc. Biotechnology), 3,376, and Engineering services, 3,228.

Based on the survey, “the projected total employment growth between 2011 and 2020 is for nearly 6,000 new jobs, or 12 percent of the current total (though fast growth, new technologies, and new opportunities could yield significantly higher numbers.)”

Total revenue was estimated at slightly more than $14 billion (direct spend only) in 2011:

  • Traditional maritime exclusive industries $ 1,403,082,257
  • Maritime technology industries   $ 6,165,840,257
  • Other maritime   $ 6,465,162,848

Source: ERISS; Info-USA; U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages; Dun and Bradstreet; Corporation Wiki

The report states, “The region’s focus on the high-technology aspects of the Blue Economy is increasingly well-placed. Technology is becoming ever more enmeshed in even the most traditional maritime activities…The role of technology in San Diego’s maritime economy is also unique because of the close relationship with the U.S. Navy and the need for innovation for the Defense Department and defense industries.”

The Maritime Alliance undertook “yeomen’s efforts to define the totality of the Maritime Technology Cluster – really a sub-set of the larger Blue Economy – similar to how maritime technology clusters around the world seem to identify their industry activity as an innovation industry with close and overlapping relationships to the spheres of traditional maritime activity. Their efforts resulted in 14 sectors for the San Diego Maritime Technology Cluster map with many sub-sectors:”

  • Aquaculture and Fishing
  • Biomedicine
  • Boat and Shipbuilding
  • Cables and Connectors
  • Defense and Security
  • Desalination and Water Treatment
  • Marine Recreation
  • Ocean Energy and Minerals
  • Ocean Science and Observation
  • Ports and Marine Transportation
  • Robotics and Submarines
  • Telecommunications
  • Very Large Floating Platforms
  • Weather and Climate Science

The report made the following general observations about San Diego’s “Blue Tech” industry:

  • Highly differentiated  – 14 sectors in San Diego; 71 sub-sectors
  • Prevalence of multi-use technologies from small, specialized firms
  • Typically high gross margins
  • Largely self-reliant – traditionally modest users of bank debt and outside equity
  • Largely invisible in local markets / limited public & government awareness
  • Little baseline economic data due to non-specific NAICS codes
  • Highly export-oriented – typically 40-60 percent for most companies
  • Markets exist in virtually every country around the world
  • Growth in most sectors strongly outpaces world economic growth

These sectors can largely be used to describe the overall Maritime Industry and doing so “ helps to emphasize the increasing connectedness and overlap between the traditional and technology dimensions of San Diego’s maritime businesses…to leverage shared assets and opportunities, from formal investments all the way to informal instances of collaboration among stakeholders. “

While commercial fishing in the region is much smaller than in its heyday, the industry has the potential to double in size over the next decade. Plans have been made to provide ongoing support for commercial fishing, and recommendations have been incorporated in the Commercial Fisheries Revitalization and Coastal Public Access Plan that took three years to complete. The Port of San Diego staff has begun implementation. Implementation will take several years and cost several million dollars.

For about “one-third of the 22 companies that participated in live interviews, energy, especially offshore oil and gas, directly or indirectly, represented major, if not dominant customers. Most of these firms have few or no local customers. Their customers are either foreign firms or, if U.S. firms, located in either the Gulf of Mexico or foreign waters.” This sector has a high-growth potential market.

San Diego is the world leader in desalination and reverse osmosis technology, which was patented in San Diego in 1964. “More than 3,000 professionals and workers are employed by companies in the region which includes two of the three global market-share leaders in membrane supply.”

“San Diego has a long history in underwater vehicles and maritime robotics, initially driven by the Navy’s needs. The major Navy lab in San Diego (SPAWAR Systems Center Pacific) developed ten manned underwater vehicles and nearly two dozen unmanned vehicles.” Private companies have developed various kinds of UUVs (Unmanned Underwater Vehicles), such as the underwater vehicle models of SeaBotix Inc., the world’s leading MiniROV manufacturer.

The report states, “Workforce development has a critical role to play when cluster strategies consider the practical challenges and opportunities within any region…workers at the top of the income and education spectrum are no longer a central facet of what cluster strategies can offer a region…An occupational strategy for the Maritime Industry must be necessarily unique. On the one hand, the industry composition is too diverse to look for industry-driven occupational patterns as a driving rationale. On the other hand, that diversity includes both the kinds of firms that headline The Maritime Alliance’s membership and those that rely critically on workers who are skilled but unlikely to hold a bachelor’s degree.”

Most of the small, high-tech firms interviewed primarily recruited individuals with college or advanced degrees, with very high concentrations of various engineering disciplines. They reported considerable talent availability, particularly due to the recession. “The primary recruiting concern was lack of maritime-specific experience and training. Lack of undersea experience was especially noted by several firms. A few firms expressed concern about a growing shortage of software developers and programmers.”

The company interviews revealed the following common trends and challenges:

  •  Firms saw considerable opportunity, especially in offshore markets, but some of the most attractive deals are seen as too large or too complex for small companies to pursue effectively by themselves.
  • Strong global competition is emerging, especially from firms with considerable foreign government support or from large firms with access to significant private or public capital resources.
  • A large number expressed concerns about California’s regulatory burden, as well as that of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
  • Many were very concerned about threats to the working waterfront and saw residential and tourism interests eating away at industrial and commercial uses of the waterfront.

Many supported strong local advocacy in support of reducing the state burden on maritime activity, easing commercial regulation on surveying and mapping activity and on recreational yachts over 300 tons, as well as harmonizing California ballast water regulations with those promulgated by the International Maritime Organization, until a common suite of U.S. regulations are issued. Shipyards claimed that they face overlapping and sometimes conflicting regulations and oversight from multiple agencies and that San Diego is worse than the rest of California.

Policy Recommendations

While these are too numerous and detailed to consider in depth in this brief article one of the most important was that it was recommended that the SDREDC focus on attracting and promoting high wage, high value-added, capital and R&D intensive firms and operations, with five focus areas for initial priority attention:

  1. Target offshore energy, and potentially offshore minerals extraction, as a priority cluster strategy effort. The range of companies in the San Diego region with deep expertise and technologies focused on operations in hostile ocean environments face an exciting array of opportunities.
  2. Launch a focused effort to take advantage of (and protect San Diego from) changing DoD strategy and restructuring.
  3. Strengthen organizational participation in the existing TMA Seafood (Aquaculture and Fishing) Working Group that brings together the fishing, processing, aquaculture, and other related interests to determine if the strong mutual interests identified can be leveraged into a seafood strategy for the region or the state.
  4. Aggressively promote shipbuilding, repair, and refit as this is a relatively robust local industry.
  5. Enhance seaborne trade and the associated land-based, logistics infrastructure.

The respondents expressed strong concerns that the various maritime organizations were not doing enough collectively to “protect the working waterfront.” Some of the recommendations included:

  •   Create joint-use facilities such as a world-class testing facility that firms could access
  •  Create incubator space for young firms, which would include access to shared equipment and facilities
  • Create a network of existing specialized facilities, equipment, and other assets that could be made available to smaller firms (for a fee)
  • Create a core marine biology facility for joint use (similar to an existing North Carolina initiative)

Finally, there was strong interest in more networking and collaboration between the Navy and private industry, between large firms and small firms, and among the many maritime-related organizations in the San Diego region. The consensus was that that the San Diego community does not think big enough in the maritime space. A clear recommendation was made for the San Diego maritime community to come up with a big idea and make it happen (such as the Maritime Center of Excellence).

We are in danger of losing our country’s assets!

April 8th, 2014

We Americans blithely ignore the long-term effects of allowing foreign corporations to purchase the assets of our country in the form of companies, land, and resources. We are selling off our ability to produce wealth by allowing so many American corporations to be purchased by foreign corporations. It is not just foreign companies buying our assets that is the problem ? it is the state-owned and massively subsidized companies of China that are dangerous because China uses its state-owned enterprises as a strategic tool of the state. By pretending they are private companies abiding by free-market rules to our detriment makes us the biggest chumps on the planet. German economist Fredrich List, wrote, “The power of producing wealth is…infinitely more important than wealth itself.”

How many Americans paid attention to the news last year that Smithfield Foods was acquired by a Chinese corporation? Last September, shareholders approved the sale of the company to Shuanghui International Holdings Limited, the biggest meat processor in China. Smithfield Foods is the world’s largest pork producer, and Americans must now face the danger of polluted Chinese food since our FDA only inspects 2% of our food imports.

In the December 15, 2013, New York Post, Diane Francis, author of “Merger of the Century: Why Canada and America Should Become One Country” wrote “Currently, American authorities only evaluate foreign takeovers on the basis of national-security issues or shareholder rights and securities laws. But these criteria are inadequate. A fairer test in the case of Smithfield, and future buyout attempts by China, should also require reciprocity: Only corporations from countries that allow Americans to buy large companies should be allowed to buy large American companies. That is why Washington must impose new foreign ownership restrictions based on the principle of reciprocity. The rule must be that foreigners can only buy companies if Americans can make similar buyouts in their countries”.

How many are aware that the chain of AMC Theaters is now owned by Chinese Corporation? Dalian Wanda Group Company owned by China’s richest man, billionaire real estate developer, Wang Jianlin, bought AMC Theatres in May 2012, creating the world’s largest theater chain. This means that the Chinese will now be in a position to shape public opinion and mold the minds of our children through entertainment media.

In January 2014, Motorola Mobility was sold by Google to Chinese corporation, Lenovo, which means that the nation that invented smart phones is just about entirely out of the business of producing smart phones in America. Lenovo is the same company that bought IBM’s line of personal computers in 2004. This acquisition will give one of China’s most prominent technology companies a broader foothold in the U. S.

Through strategic purchases, China is positioning itself to be our energy supplier as well. Since 2009, Chinese companies have invested billions of dollars acquiring significant percentages of shares of energy companies, such as The AES Corporation, Chesapeake Energy, and Oil & Gas Assets. In 2010, China Communications Construction Company bought 100% of Friede Goldman United, and in 2012, A-Tech Wind Power (Jiangxi) bought 100% of Cirrus Wind Energy.

Chinese companies are even acquiring healthcare companies:  WuXiu Pharma Tech bought AppTec Laboratory Services, and Mindray Medical International bought Datascope Corporation in 2008; BGI-Shenzhen bought Complete Genomics in 2012, and Mindray Medical International bought Zonare Medical Systems in 2013.

Wall Street and the finance industry are not immune from acquisitions by Chinese corporations:  Shenzhen New World Group bought Sheraton Universal Hotel in 2011; China Aviation Industrial Fund bought International Lease Finance Corporation in 2012; and Fosun bought One Chase Manhattan Plaza in 2013.

One of the earliest acquisitions by a Chinese corporation was when the Hoover brand was sold to Hong Kong, China-based firm Techtronic Industries after Maytag that owned Hoover was acquired by Whirlpool in 2006.

The acquisition of American companies by foreign corporations isn’t something new. Many prominent companies founded in America have been bought by corporations from the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, and other European countries in the latter half of the 20th Century. Most American don’t realize that such iconic American companies as BF Goodrich and RCA are now owned by French corporations, and that Carnation and Gerber are now owned by Swiss corporations.

Most foreign countries don’t allow 100% foreign ownership of their businesses, but sadly, the United States does not exercise the same prudence. We sell our companies to them, and they almost never sell theirs to us. This tilted playing field has gutted America’s economic power.

What is enabling Chinese companies to go on a buying spree of American assets? Trade deficits – our ever-increasing trade deficit with China over the past 20 years is transferring America’s wealth to China and making millionaires out of many Chinese. In 1994, our trade deficit with China was $29.5 billion, and it grew to $83.8 by 2001 when China was granted “Most Favored Nation” status and admitted to the World Trade Organization. By 2004, it had doubled to $162.3 billion. After a slight dip in 2009 during the depths of the Great Recession, the trade deficit grew to $318.4 billion in 2013. If you add the annual trade deficits for the past 20 years, it totals $3.15 trillion. China now has over one billion serious savers and more than a million millionaires whose assets when combined provide billions to spend to buy our assets.

In addition, it is our trade deficit with Japan that has enabled Japanese corporations to go a buying spree of American assets since the 1980s when such companies as Columbia Pictures Entertainment was acquired by the Sony Corporation of Japan in 1989, and Bridgestone Corporation of Japan bought Firestone in 1988. However, our highest trade deficit with Japan of $84.3 billion in 2007 was nearly one third of our current trade deficit with China. While we are still transferring wealth to Japan, it is a democracy and doesn’t have armed missiles pointed in our direction.

In theory, we have the means to protect ourselves from this. CFIUS, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, has the power to regulate, approve and deny these purchases. However, it is rare for the CFIUS to block deals. “During 2011, the most recent year with data available, the CFIUS was notified 111 times of deals that fell under its purview. Of those 111 covered deals, 40 were investigated and just five were withdrawn during that investigation…This year, Chinese companies have bought 10 companies worth $10.5 billion, says Thomson Reuters. That’s more than 20% of the 484 U.S. companies that have been bought by foreign companies this year worth $43.6 billion, Thomson Reuters says.”

The 2013 Annual Report to Congress by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission states, “China presents new challenges for CFIUS, because investment by SOEs can blur the line between national security and economic security. The possibility of government intent or coordinated strategy behind Chinese investments raises national security concerns. For example, Chinese companies’ attempts to acquire technology track closely the government’s plan to move up the value-added chain. There is also an inherent tension among state and federal agencies in the United States regarding FDI from China. The federal government tends to be concerned with maintaining national security and protecting a rules-based, nondiscriminatory investment regime. The state governments are more concerned with local economic benefits, such as an expanded tax base and increased local employment, rather than a national strategic issue, especially as job growth has stagnated.”

The report, continues, “China has amassed the world’s largest trove of dollar-denominated assets. Although the true composition of China’s foreign exchange reserves, valued at $3.66 trillion, is a state secret, outside observers estimate that about 70 percent is in dollars. In recent years, China has become less risk averse and more willing to invest directly in U.S. land, factories, and businesses.”

Did we let the USSR buy our companies during the Cold War? No, we didn’t! We realized that we would be helping our enemy. This was pretty simple, common sense, but we don’t seem to have this same common sense when dealing with China.

China has a written plan to become the Super Power of the 21st Century. With regard to China’s military buildup, the report states, “PLA modernization is altering the security balance in the Asia Pacific, challenging decades of U.S. military preeminence in the region…The PLA is rapidly expanding and diversifying its ability to strike U.S. bases, ships, and aircraft throughout the Asia Pacific region, including those that it previously could not reach, such as U.S. military facilities on Guam.

It is time to wake up to the real dangers of our dangerously high trade deficits with China. The Communist Chinese government is not our friend. They are a geopolitical rival that is striving to replace the United States as the global hegemony. We should not let Chinese corporations acquire any more of our energy companies or technology-based companies if we want to maintain our national sovereignty.

Manufacturing in Golden State Summit shows how to make California Thrive

March 25th, 2014

On March 19th, over 100 business leaders met at the community center of the City of Brea in Orange County for the “Manufacturing in the Golden State – Making California Thrive” economic summit. The summit was hosted by State Senator Mark Wyland in partnership with the Coalition for a Prosperous America and many other regional businesses and associations. The purpose of the summit was to discuss how our national trade policies and tax policies are harming California manufacturers and what policies should be changed to help them grow and thrive.

After State Senator Wyland welcomed attendees, Michael Stumo, CEO of the Coalition for a Prosperous America, provided an overview of the schedule for the day.

I provided an overview of California manufacturing in which I briefly discussed the history of manufacturing in California, pointing out that California is the 8th largest market in world and ranks first in manufacturing for both jobs and output. Manufacturing accounts for 12.5 % of the California’s Gross State Product and 9% of California jobs. California leads the nation in monies spent on R&D, and California companies received over 50% of all Venture Capital dollars invested in the U. S. in 2011. California’s high-tech exports also ranked first nationwide, totaling $48 billion in 2011.

California dropped to 50th in ranking for its business climate by the Small Business Entrepreneur Council Survival Index of 2013 because of its high personal and corporate income & capital gains taxes, its high gas and diesel taxes, high state minimum wage, high electric utility costs, high workers’ compensation costs, and stringent environmental and air quality regulations.

As a result, California lost over 600,000 manufacturing jobs since the year 2001, which represents 33.3% of its manufacturing industry. I mentioned that all of us had undoubtedly heard the latest ad by Texas Governor Rick Perry touting that 50 California companies had relocated to Texas in the last two years.

I then moderated a panel of the following local manufacturers, who gave their viewpoints of the challenges of doing business in California:

  • Bob Lane, President, laneOPX
  • Dana Mitchell, President, Advanced Mold Technology Inc.
  • Tim Nguyen, President, Alva Manufacturing
  • Nick Ventura, Co-founder

Ms. Mitchell, Mr. Nguyen, and Mr. Ventura highlighted the difficulty in competing against Chinese prices and finding skilled workers. Their other comments provided examples of some of the above-cited disadvantages of doing business in California.

Dr. Greg Autry, Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship, Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California, led off the national panel with the topic of “Currency Valuation and National Security Concerns with the Current U.S. Trade Regime.” He began by showing the falsity of classical  assumptions behind “free trade” by Ricardo and Hume ? absolute advantages are non-transferable, there are no externalities, such as pollution and military expenses, trade is in kind, there are no fiat currency distortions, and no strategies that are time constrained.

Autry then discussed the currency manipulation models of Japan and China, showing how China’s currency manipulation affects our national security. While China has adjusted the valuation of their renminbi (yuan) slightly since they drastically devalued it in 1994, it has still not reached the level that it was at that time. To keep their currency valuation low they either keep the dollars they get from their trade surplus in reserve or buy U. S. Treasury bonds. The dollars they earn from our trade imbalance and the interest they earn from buying our debt in the form of bonds has funded the dramatic buildup of their military.

Our technical superiority in military systems will not assure our national security any more than the technical superiority of Nazi Germany’s aircraft and tanks did for them. Economic superiority is what matters. The manufacturing industry of the U. S. out produced Germany during WWII and the Soviet Union in the Cold War. Autry stated, “An economy that builds only F-35s is unsustainable – productive capacity is what wins real wars. Sophisticated systems require complex supply chains of supporting industries. They require experienced production engineers and experienced machinists.” He concluded that we cannot rely on China to produce what we need for our military and defense systems. We should not be relying on Russia’s Mr. Putin to launch our satellites and space vehicles and provide us a seat to get to the international space station.

Next, Michael Stumo presented “Can Consumption Taxes Create Jobs and Help Regain American Prosperity?” He said, “America has no strategy to win… in terms of being a successful producing and exporting nation. Growing exports, expanding two-way trade, and establishing global supply chains makes us losers.Unilateral trade disarmament makes us losers.We should want to win and not be ashamed of pursuing our national interest.”

Stumo described the math about how a consumption tax could reduce our income tax burden, include imports in our tax base, and shrink the trade deficit, and increase U.S. production while maintaining progressivity. He explained that our national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) equals Consumption plus Investment plus Government Procurement plus Net Exports (Total exports minus Total Imports). Because our imports exceed exports, our economy is smaller than it would be if the U.S. balanced trade.

More than 150 countries have a form of consumption tax, either a goods and services tax (GST) or a value added tax (VAT), with an average 17% level. These countries rebate these taxes on their exports, which is a subsidy. The taxes are “border adjustable” because they act as a 17% tariff on our goods sent to other countries.

After NAFTA, Mexico replaced its tariff reduction by establishing a 15% VAT, and Central America did the same, establishing a 12% VAT after CAFTA. Other countries use consumption taxes to offset income, payroll, or other employer taxes to help their manufacturers be more competitive in the global marketplace or to offset other costs like national health care or pension programs.

These border adjustable consumption taxes have been a causative factor in increasing our trade deficits with our trading partners, which was $471.5 billion in 2013, $318 billion with China alone. CPA advocates changes in U. S. trade policy to address this unfairness which tremendously distorts trade flows. The goal of a U. S. consumption tax should be:

  • Neutralize foreign tax (tariff/subsidy) advantage
  • Reduce non-border adjustable taxes: Income and/or Payroll
  • Replace them with border adjustable consumption taxes like a GST
  • Be revenue neutral
  • Be distribution/progressivity neutral
  • Minimize fight over exemptions, deductions, and location of profits

Pat Choate (Economist; Author, Saving Capitalism: Keeping America Strong) covered the importance of protecting Intellectual Property to the future of American manufacturing. He said that the U. S. is the most innovative country in the world, issuing more patents than any other country, and California represents 25% of all U. S. patents. Choate highlighted how our current trade policies do not address patent infringement, trademark counterfeiting, and the outright theft of our trade secrets by China and other Asian countries. The intellectual property clauses of the Trans-Pacific Partnership would exacerbate the problems already created by the passage of the America Invents Act in 2012 converting the U. S. from a “first-to-invent” to “first-to-file” that has hurt our innovation. Any future trade agreement must address intellectual property theft.

The next speaker was Mike Dolan, Legislative Representative for the Teamsters, who has long experience working for Fair Trade (fighting expansion of the job-killing NAFTA/WTO model). If we build and maintain a strong bipartisan mobilization, we can stop Fast Track trade authority from being granted to the President and stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) Agreements from being passed. Dolan called the TPP “NAFTA on steroids” said that TTIP is just as bad. Dolan concluded that the path to victory on sensible trade policy is not possible without the Coalition for a Prosperous America and the constituencies it represents — small business, particularly in industries that are sensitive to trade fluctuations, family farmers and ranchers, working families and “trade patriot” activists including Tea Party groups.

Keynote speaker Dan DiMicco, Chairman Emeritus of Nucor Steel Corporation, spoke about “Seizing the Opportunity.” He led off by shocking the audience with facts about the real state of our economy and our unemployment rate. By December 2013, we still had not reached the level of employment that we had when the recession began in December 2007 although 72 months had passed. We lost 8.7 million jobsfrom December 2007 to the “trough” reached in February 2010, but because our recovery has been much slower than the previous recessions of 1974, 1981, 1990, and 2001, the gap in recovery of jobs compared to these recessions is actually 12,363 jobs.  

In contrast to the misleading U-3 unemployment rate of 6.7% for December that is reported in the news media, the U-6 rate was 13.1%.  The government’s U-6 rate is more accurate because it counts “marginally attached workers and those working part-time for economic reasons.” However, the actual unemployment is worse because the participation in the workforce has dropped from 66.0% to 62.8%. In other words, if the December 2013 Civilian Labor Force Participation Rate was back to the December 2007 level of 66.0%, it would  add 7.9 million people to the ranks of those looking for jobs.The manufacturing industry lost 20% of its jobs, and the construction industry lost 19% of its jobs.

Unemployment Data Adjusted For Decline in Civilian Labor Force Participation Rate
(Adjusted For Decline from December 2007 Level Of 66.0% to 62.8% in December 2013)

Reported Unemployed U.S. Workers 10,351,000
Involuntary Part-time workers 7,771,000
Marginally Attached To Labor Force Workers 2,427,000
Additional Unemployed Workers With 66% CLF Participation Rate 7,896,000


Unemployed U.S. Workers In Reality 28,445,000
Adjusted Civilian Labor force 162,833,000
Unemployment Rate In Reality 17.5%

We got in this position from 1970 until today because of failed trade policies allowing mercantilism to win out against true FREE Trade. We bought into wrongheaded economic opinions that America could become a service-based economy to replace a manufacturing-based economy. Manufacturing supply chains are the Wealth Creation Engine of our economy and the driver for a healthy and growing middle class! The result has been that manufacturing shrank from over 30% to 9.9% of GDP causing the destruction of the middle class. It created the service/financial based Bubble Economy ( scheme type financial instruments.)

In addition, we have had 30 years of massive increases in inefficient and unnecessary Government regulations. These regulations, for the most part, in the past have been put in place by Congress and the Executive Branch. However, today they are increasingly being put in place by unelected officials/bureaucrats as they intentionally by-pass Congress.

American’s prosperity in the 20th century arose from producing more than it consumed, saving more than it spent, and keeping deficits to manageable and sustainable levels. Today, America’s trade and budget deficits are on track to reach record levels threatening our prosperity and our future.

Creating jobs must be our top priority, and we need to create 26-29 million jobs over the next 4-5 years. There are four steps we can take to bring about job creation:

  • Achieve energy independence,
  • Balance our trade deficit,
  • Rebuild our infrastructure for this century.
  • Rework American’s regulatory nightmare

We need to recapture American independence through investment in our country’s people, infrastructure, and energy independence, and by reversing the deficit-driven trends that currently define our nation’s economic policy. In conclusion, DiMicco said, “Real and lasting wealth IS, and always has been, created by innovating, making and building things — ALL 3 ? and servicing the goods producing sector NOT by a predominance of servicing services!”

Now is the time for all Americans to put aside their political differences and work together to restore California to the Golden State it once was and restore the United States to the land of opportunity it once was.

CPA’s Legislative Fly-in was a Resounding Success!

March 18th, 2014

Last week, I attended the annual Coalition for a Prosperous America’s legislative fly-in to Washington, D.C. for the second time. My fellow CPA members and supporters came from California to New England and from Washington State to Florida, and we met with over 100 Congressional and Senate offices. As chair of the California chapter, I headed up one of the two teams from the western United States, and my team met with Congressional staff and one Congressmen at a dozen offices. It was obvious that CPA’s influence is growing as we had more scheduled appointments than last year, and our appointment times were twice as long.

We delivered the message that balanced trade needs to be at the forefront of our national strategy. We now have a trade deficit with 88 countries, and our trade deficit with every one of our trading partners is worse than it was prior to concluding trade agreements with these countries. In 2013, we had a trade deficit in goods of $703.2 billion and services, but because we still have a trade surplus in services, our deficit in goods and services went down to $471.5 billion. One problem with services is that many of the services we now export are services being performed for American manufacturers that have set up manufacturing plants in other countries. An additional problem is that over 40% of our trade deficit is with China alone, and this is unsustainable.

Since our U. S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the sum of Consumption plus Investment plus Government Procurement plus Net exports (exports – imports), our trade deficit reduces our GDP. For example, in 2011, our GDP was $15,094.4 trillion, and our trade deficit shaved 4% off our GDP (14% share of GDP for exports minus 18% share of GDP for imports.)

“Our members reported a major improvement this year in congressional willingness to reconsider bad trade policy,” said Michael Stumo, CEO of the Coalition for a Prosperous America. “We were effective in countering the relentless efforts by the wealthy special interest groups who work hard to offshore our industries, our jobs and our sovereignty. The Administration’s efforts to push outdated, economy-killing concepts of trade policy has been stonewalled by the left and the right in Congress. Now they are in disarray.”

“It has become impossible to defend the current neo-liberal trade policy which ignores balance of trade,” continued Stumo. “We will start pushing that concept harder this year as we work with Congressional allies.”

I was happy to see that Congressional offices showed a heightened sensitivity to preserving states rights, American national sovereignty, and legislative branch authority over trade. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) being negotiated would allow foreign tribunals to pass judgments on “investment agreements” between the U. S. federal government and investors from TPP nations. This would make the laws and policies of the 50 states to be subject to  international tribunals rather than our Congress and judicial system.

Also, the TPP would create binding policies on future Congresses as it pertains to patent and copyright laws, land use, food and agriculture, and product standards. It would also govern our nation’s policies concerning natural resources, the environment, labor laws, and government procurement policies, along with financial, health care, energy, telecommunications and other service sector regulations.

“Congress is increasingly loathe to transfer its authority over trade and domestic policy to the executive branch and give up its right to full transparency and amendments,” said Stumo. “Trade negotiators have steadfastly refused to pursue balanced trade, a fix for currency manipulation, and multiple other changes to fix the mistakes of the past.”

I have written the following four articles in the past year that were published on the Huffington Post regarding the dangers of the TPP as currently negotiated:

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Would Destroy our National Sovereignty” (March)

Why the Trans-Pacific Partnership Would Hurt American Manufacturers” (May)

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement Would Harm Our Environment” (July)

Why we must stop Fast Track Authority from being granted” (January 9, 2014)

In addition to pointing out the harm that has been caused by our current trade policies and what is wrong with the TPP, we presented CPA’s “Principles for a 21st Century Trade Agreement:  Fixing Past Mistakes,” which advocates trade strategies that would create “Smart Trade not Dumb Trade.” Congress should require that future trade agreements provide:

Balanced Trade:  Trade agreements must contribute to a national goal of achieving a manageable balance of trade over time.

National Trade, Economic and Security Strategy: Trade agreements must strive to optimize

value added supply chains within the U.S. – from raw material to finished product – pursuant to a national trade and economic strategy that creates jobs, wealth and sustained growth. The agreements must also ensure national security by recapturing production necessary to rebuild America’s defense industrial base.

Reciprocity: Trade agreements must ensure that foreign country policies and practices as well as their tariff and non-tariff barriers provide fully reciprocal access for U.S. goods and services. The

agreements must provide that no new barriers or subsidies outside the scope of the agreement nullify or impair the concessions bargained for.

State Owned Commercial Enterprises: Trade agreements must encourage the transformation of state owned and state controlled commercial enterprises (SOEs) to private sector enterprises. In the interim, trade agreements must ensure that SOEs do not distort the free and fair flow of trade -

throughout supply chains – and investment between the countries.

Currency: Trade agreements must classify prolonged currency undervaluation as a per se violation of the agreement without the need to show injury or intent.

Rules of origin: Trade agreements must include rules of origin to maximize benefits for U.S. based supply chains and minimize free ridership by third parties. Further, all products must be labeled or marked as to country(s) of origin as a condition of entry.

Enforcement: Trade agreements must provide effective and timely enforcement mechanisms, including expedited adjudication and provisional remedies. Such provisional remedies must be permitted where the country deems that a clear breach has occurred which causes or threatens injury, and should be subject to review under the agreements’ established dispute settlement mechanisms.

Border Adjustable Taxes: Trade agreements must neutralize the subsidy and tariff impact of the border adjustment of foreign consumption taxes.

Perishable and Cyclical Products: Trade agreements must include special safeguard mechanisms to address import surges in perishable and seasonal agricultural product markets, including livestock markets.

Food and Product Safety and Quality: Trade agreements must ensure import compliance with

existing U.S. food and product safety and quality standards and must not inhibit changes to or improvements in U.S. standards. The standards must be effectively enforced at U.S. ports.

Domestic Procurement: Trade agreements must preserve the ability of federal, state and local

governments to favor domestic producers in government , or government funded, procurement.

Temporary vs. Permanent Agreements: Trade agreements must be sunsetted, subject to renegotiation and renewal. Renewal must not occur if the balance of benefits cannot be restored.

Trade negotiators agree to language based upon expectations and judgment in pursuit of national goals.

Labor: Trade agreements must include enforceable labor provisions to ensure that lax labor standards and enforcement by contracting countries do not result in hidden subsidies to the detriment of U.S.-based workers and producers.

We CPA members also delivered a petition signed by over 80 liberty groups across the country objecting to Fast Track and the Trans-Pacific Partnership on constitutional grounds. “Tea Party and other liberty organizations have learned how American sovereignty is at risk as we transfer domestic authority to international governance systems and tribunals,” continued Stumo. “They are not fooled by phony free trade claims as a rationale to permanently give up our sovereignty.”

After this legislative fly-in, the outlook is more promising that CPA will be successful in forging a new consensus on trade and economic policy that balances trade, creates jobs, grows our economy and protects American sovereignty. It was a pleasure to take advantage of my rights as a citizen to express my opinions and those of an organization of which I am a member to our elected representatives. You can help ensure that this success happens sooner than later by supporting the Coalition for a Prosperous America.

Bill to Address Skills Training is Stalled in Senate

March 4th, 2014

In the past 15 years, the manufacturing industry has evolved from needing low-skilled production-type assembly workers to being highly technology-infused. It’s no secret that manufacturing companies are now struggling to fill the gap for workers trained with the specific skills needed for today’s advanced manufacturing jobs.

To address this problem and provide training that the youth and the unemployed need to secure jobs, the House passed the Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills (SKILLS) Act (H.R. 803) in March 2013, which was authored by Higher Education and Workforce Training subcommittee chair Virginia Foxx (R-NC). The SKILLS Act would revise and reauthorize job training, employment service, adult education and literacy, and rehabilitation programs currently provided under the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), which has not been reauthorized since its enactment, and is now nearly a decade overdue for reauthorization. The Skills Act would eliminate 35 existing programs and consolidate funding into a single Workforce Investment Fund.

Several governors and workforce training leaders praised the bill:  New Jersey Governor Chris Christie stated, “By streamlining federal workforce training programs, the SKILLS Act would reduce the administrative burden that current law places on the states. It also provides states with the needed flexibility to tailor job training programs, acknowledging that the needs of New Jersey are surely different than those of other states.”

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett stated, “The SKILLS Act restores 15% state set-aside funding to support innovative strategies statewide and locally…In addition to providing flexibility and encouraging innovation, the restored state set-aside also supports the needs of our most vulnerable citizens.”

Florida Governor Rick Scott stated, “H.R. 803 proposes a market-driven approach to talent development designed to prepare individuals seeking employment for the jobs of today – and the jobs of tomorrow…Increasing the business representation on state and local boards improves our alignment with market needs.”

Dr. R. Scott Ralls, president of the North Carolina Community College System, noted that it is “important that reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act streamlines programs, limits administrative overhead, and enables state and local flexibility to design systems that meet the legislative goals in the most effective and efficient manner. Simplifying the system and moving past the myriad of multiple program titles and funding streams is a fundamental step.”

 Todd Gustafson, executive director of Michigan Works—Berrien-Cass-Van Buren, noted, “Eliminating the 19 federal mandates on representation will further strengthen business engagement. Requiring two-thirds of board members to be employers will enhance the shift from a supply side designed system to a demand or market driven system.”

The Senate version of this bill is S. 1356, the Workforce Investment Act of 2013, and on December 19, 2013, a Motion to proceed to consideration of the measure was made in the Senate.

During an executive session in the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions in August 2013, Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa delivered the following statement on S.1356, (quoted in part): “It requires states to develop and submit one unified plan to the Secretary of Education and the Secretary of Labor, covering all of the programs authorized under WIA – job training, adult education, employment services, and vocational rehabilitation – streamlining administrative processes at the state level in a thoughtful way. It eliminates several unfunded programs and provides for an innovation fund that will help the system to identify and replicate the most effective strategies for workforce development. It also includes provisions to support better data and evaluations that can be used across all core programs, including common definitions and performance indicators.”

If the Senate passes S. 1356, the measure would then move to conference, a process by which the House and Senate each appoint “conferees” to reconcile the differences between the two pieces of legislation in an effort to produce a version that could gain enough support for passage in both chambers.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the programs covered by these bills are currently overseen by the Departments of Labor and Education and provide grants to state and local governments as well as to private and nonprofit organizations to provide specified services. Those programs received discretionary funding of $5.5 billion and mandatory funding of $3.1 billion in 2013.

The National Skills Coalition has prepared a side-by-side comparison report on the occupational training and adult education and family literacy provisions1 in the House and Senate Workforce Investment Act (WIA) reauthorization proposals with current law. The 41-page report goes into considerable detail in comparing the current law with the Skills Act and S. 1356.

One of the differences between the House Skills Act and the proposed Senate bill is the composition of the membership of the State Board. Under current law, the membership is composed of:

  • Governor
  • Two members of each chamber of the state legislature, and
  • Representatives appointed by the governor, including: Business representatives, Chief elected officials (representing both cities and counties where appropriate),Labor representatives, and Youth organization representatives

Representatives of individuals and organizations with experience and expertise in the delivery of workforce investment activities including chief executive officers of community colleges and community based organizations, lead state officials of mandatory partner agencies, and other representatives and state agency officials that the governor may designate.

In contrast, the Skills Act requires thattwo-thirds of board members be representatives of the business community”  and “eliminates requirement that local board include representatives from local educational entities, labor organizations, community-based organizations, economic development agencies, and one-stop partners.” It maintains “the governor, chief elected officials, a state agency official responsible for economic development and other such representatives as the governor should designate to serve on the board.”

The Senate bill, however, revises current law for State Board membership as follows: majority of representatives must be employers or representatives of business or trade associations; at least 20 percent must be representatives of labor and CBOs or youth serving organizations, and adds representatives of a joint labor-management program or apprenticeship program as a required partner.

Judy Lawton, CEO of The Lawton Group, past president of the San Diego Workforce Investment Board and current Chair of the Adult Programs Committee, provided me with the following comments regarding the Skills Act: “The San Diego Workforce Partnership completed their Five (5) Year Plan more than a year ago and rolled it out to the public shortly thereafter. It is very comprehensive, well thought out, and definitely streamlines practices and procedures and strategic thinking along the lines of programs and program delivery methods. At our last Adult Programs Committee meeting, we recommended apprenticeship programs to the full Workforce Investment Board through the collaborative efforts of local Union leaders, business leaders, educators, and skills trainers. As for the Boards being comprised of 2/3rd business people, I’m not so sure. The WIB is already mandated by law to have 51% business and that community is well represented. The Unions belong at the table as they are becoming more involved with the necessary apprenticeship programs, and their presence is welcomed.”

The current law requires a unified state plan that is based on a five-year strategy, while the Skills Act requires a three-year plan, and the Senate bill requires a four-year plan.

Both the Skills Act and the Senate bill maintain the current law with regard to the establishment of the One-Stop Delivery System for services and the delivery of services, but have different plans than the current law for infrastructure funding.

A major difference of the Skills Act compared to current law and the Senate bill is that it repeals the Youth Activities section of the current Workforce Investment Act. It also repeals:

  • Native American programs
  • Migrant and seasonal farm worker programs
  • Veterans’ workforce investment programs
  • Youth opportunity grant program

The National Skills Coalition sent a four-page letter on March 4, 2013 to the Committee on Education and the Workforce Committee of the House of Representatives expressing their grave concerns about eliminating the above programs and explained their additional reasons for opposing the passage of the SKILLS Act. The other reasons for their opposition are too complex for me to attempt to summarize. As usual, the “devil is in the details,” so I highly recommend that readers check out the links to the report and letter that are herein provided.

 San Diego Workforce Partnership President Peter Callstrom provided me with the following word of caution:  “The Workforce Investment Act (WIA) is long overdue for reauthorization. There are competing visions with respect to how to best go forward: reauthorize as is, or reconstruct through the ‘Skills Act’ – or some combination of both. The WIA works well and thousands of individuals have, and continue to be, supported in their careers. Where, and how, we go from here is important. In the end, we all want local control in order to address our unique needs. As the local Workforce Investment Board (WIB), we welcome any solution that results in more resources for Our region led by Our residents to support Our workforce. Let’s hope that politics doesn’t get in the way of that.”

Well said, Peter.


Why Manufacturing is Critical to California’s Economy

February 25th, 2014

For every one job created in manufacturing, at least two to three jobs are created to support the sector. Further, manufacturing firms create regional wealth by producing a product that is exported to other states and countries. This attracts additional funds to the region — creating business, individual and community wealth. Because of this ripple effect, manufacturing firms have a deeper impact on the state of the economy than most other industries.

California is the number one state for manufacturing jobs, firms and output – accounting for 11.7 percent of the total U. S. output, and employing 9 percent of the U. S. manufacturing workforce. California manufacturing generates $229.9 billion, more than any other state. Manufacturing is California’s most export-intensive activity contributing significantly to California’s $159 billion in exports in 2011. Overall, manufacturing exports represent 9.4% ($120 billion in goods) of California’s GDP, and computers and electronic products constitute 29.3% of the state’s total manufacturing exports. More than one-fifth (21.9%) of all manufacturing workers in California directly depend on exports for their jobs.

Since January 2001, the manufacturing sector lost 33% of its job base, down from 1.86 million jobs in 2001 to 1.237 million jobs in 2019. In 2010, the manufacturing sector began adding employment, regaining 7,900 jobs. California exports have also increased — up from $104 billion of manufactured goods in 2009 to $124 billion in 2010.

A 2011 report by the Center for Applied Competitive Technologies (CACT) at El Camino College and the Center Of Excellence (COE) of the Los Rios Community College District identified the following 17 cluster industries in California:

  •  Aerospace Manufacturing
  • Biotechnology, Medical Devices, & Pharmaceutical Manufacturing
  • Building Materials Manufacturing
  • Chemical Manufacturing
  • Computers/Electronics Manufacturing
  • Dental Equipment, Supplies & Laboratories Manufacturing
  • Fashion/Clothing Manufacturing
  • Furniture Manufacturing
  • Household Products Manufacturing
  • Machinery Manufacturing
  • Metals Manufacturing
  • Paper Products Manufacturing
  • Petroleum Manufacturing
  • Plastic Products Manufacturing
  • Printing and Publishing
  • Transportation Manufacturing

 The report states, “With the exception of food manufacturing, biotechnology, dental equipment, and petroleum, nearly every manufacturing cluster in California has shed jobs over the last five years [2006-2011.] Building materials lost the most jobs with a decline of 32%, followed by printing (22%), and computers/electronics (10%).”


The report states that the “manufacturing sector must address a variety of challenges, from navigating a complex regulatory environment to developing strategies to compete with low cost economics. There are a number of factors that have inhibited the manufacturing sector’s ability to compete locally and internationally.” Some of these challenges are:

  • California’s regulatory climate is difficult, expensive and time consuming to navigate
  • Higher health care expenditures compared to countries where health care is paid for by general tax revenues
  • Higher salaries and other benefits, such as paid leave, insurance, and retirement plans
  • Higher costs associated with litigation claims
  • Higher costs associated with environmental compliance;
  • Higher corporate tax rates than most other countries (the United States’ tax rate is 40%, the second highest tax rate among major trading partners.)


Competition from low-cost economies, such as China, India, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam, is one of the major challenges faced by the manufacturing sector. However, the total cost of outsourcing to other countries is often miscalculated. According to the Reshore Initiative, the true cost of manufacturing outside of the United States does not include costs associated with:

  •  National policy issues (trade negotiations, etc.)
  • Changes in currency exchange rates
  • Intellectual Property theft
  • Supply chain disruptions
  • Lengthy delivery times
  • Traveling to the manufacturing site to assess and resolving production issues

Further, in the last few years many countries have started to raise their prices to adjust for increases in wages and higher transportation/fuel expenses. By examining the total cost of outsourcing, the Reshore Initiative argues that hiring local production firms is just as price sensitive as hiring firms from low-cost economies. Also, there are several benefits to working local, such as:

  •  Improved quality and consistency of inputs
  • Ability to create just-in-time operations that reduce inventory and shipping costs and improve business-to-business relations
  • Intellectual property security
  • Faster delivery to customers

As this viewpoint has gained popularity, it has started to shift production back to the United States, creating jobs and wealth in the process. By 2013, the Reshoring Initiative estimated that about 80,000 jobs returned to the United States through reshoring, about 15% of the nationwide increase of 526,000 manufacturing jobs since 2010.

If you are in the southern California region, you can find out more about how we can help the manufacturing industry thrive in California by attending the “Manufacturing in the Golden State – Making California Thrive” economic summit on Wednesday, March 19, 2014, 9:30 AM – 1:30 PM.

This leadership summit will explore how to grow manufacturing jobs and businesses in California. National experts and local business owners will present the best solutions to help craft a successful growth strategy. 

Where:  Brea Community Center, 1 Civic Center Circle, Brea, CA 92821

Keynote Speaker:   Dan DiMicco, Chairman Emeritus, Nucor Steel Corporation


* Dr. Greg Autry – Senior Economist, Coalition for a Prosperous America; Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship, Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California (Trade Reform)
* Pat Choate – Economist; Author, “Saving Capitalism: Keeping America Strong” (Manufacturing Strategy)
* Mike Dolan – Legislative Representative, International Brotherhood of Teamsters (Currency Manipulation) (invited)
* Michael Stumo – CEO, Coalition for a Prosperous America (Tax Reform)

Panel of local business leaders (partial listing):

* Michele Nash-Hoff – Chair, Coalition for a Prosperous America CA Chapter; President, ElectroFab Sales (Overview of California Manufacturing)

*Dana Mitchell, Advanced Mold Technology Inc.
* Nick Ventura – Co Founder, Venley by Youth Monument

Presented by:  Senator Mark Wyland, in partnership with the Coalition for a Prosperous America and other regional businesses and associations.

Cost: Early Bird Rate $25 through March 5, 2014; $35 thereafter (Includes light breakfast and full lunch)


City of Brea

ATE Corporation (ATEC)

California Manufacturing Technology Consulting

Industrial Metal Supply Company

Event partners
APICS – Orange County Chapter

Brea Chamber of Commerce

Corona Chamber of Commerce
Cypress Chamber of Commerce

Fountain Valley Chamber of Commerce

Fullerton Chamber of Commerce
Garden Grove Chamber of Commerce
Global Innovative Systems

La Habra Chamber

Orange County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Orange County SBDC
Riverside County Manufacturers & Exporters Association
West Orange County Regional Chamber
Yorba Linda Chamber of Commerce

Register today for this important event.

For more information, or if you are unable to pay online, contact Sara Haimowitz (202-688-5145,

Also: click here to find out about becoming an event sponsor!


Michele Nash-Hoff, Chair
California Chapter of the Coalition for a Prosperous America


The Innovation Act Would Squash American Innovation

February 11th, 2014

Sometimes well-meaning legislation is passed that has unintended consequences that are harmful. This is the case for the Innovation Act, H.R. 3309, passed by a 325 – 91 vote in the House of Representatives on December 5, 2013, The next step is consideration by the U.S. Senate of four similar bills that have been proposed: S. 1720 (Leahy D-VT), S. 866 (Schumer D-NY), S. 1013 (Comyn R-TX), and S. 1612 (Hatch R-UT). What is the purpose of this new Act and how would it have harmful unintended consequences?

The intended purpose of the Innovation Act is to curb frivolous lawsuits for patent infringement by so-called “patent trolls,” a derogatory term defined by Wikipedia  as “a person or company who enforces patent rights against accused infringers in an attempt to collect licensing fees, but does not manufacture products or supply services based upon the patents in question, thus engaging in economic rent-seeking. Related, less pejorative terms include patent holding company (PHC) and non-practicing entity (NPE).”

However, the Patent Freedom organization states, “NPEs are not all cut from the same cloth. Some inventors choose not to pursue the development, manufacturing, and sales of their inventions. They may lack the resources to do so, or the interest, passion, and commitment that such an effort requires. Instead, they may seek to license their inventions to others who can use them to deliver better products and services, often with the assistance of those with experience in this area. Or they may choose to sell the patents outright…. some entities buy patents with the express purpose of licensing them aggressively. For instance, about 25% of “parent” NPEs tracked by Patent Freedom are enforcing only patents that they had acquired. Another 60% are asserting patents originally assigned to them, and the remaining 15% are asserting a blend of originally assigned and acquired patents”

The Innovation Act would create additional requirements as part of the legal process associated with patent infringement under United States law. Some of the provisions are paraphrased below:

  • Requires specificity in patent lawsuits – requires specified details concerning each claim of each patent was allegedly infringed.
  • Makes patent ownership more transparent with a “Joinder” clause requiring patent plaintiffs to name anyone who has a financial interest in the patent being litigated.
  • Makes the loser pay – “if a losing plaintiff cannot pay, the bill would allow a judge to order others who had a financial stake in the plaintiff’s lawsuit to join the lawsuit and pay the costs of an unsuccessful patent lawsuit.”
  • Delay discovery to keep costs down – gives time to allow the courts to address legal questions about the meaning of patent claims with the goal of reducing legal costs and allow more frivolous lawsuits to be resolved before defendants have incurred large legal bills.
  • Protect end users - allows technology vendors to step into the shoes of their customers and fight lawsuits against trolls on their customers’ behalf in cases where restaurants, supermarkets, airlines, casinos, real estate agents and other brick-and-mortar businesses are being sued for using technology such as Wi-Fi instead of the manufacturers of the equipment.

Proponents say that” in the two years since the AIA was enacted, patent litigation has exploded. More and more firms are acquiring broad patents not to use the technology but rather to extract licensing fees from companies that infringe the patents accidentally…so a number of industry groups that weren’t traditionally involved in patent debates have begun agitating for patent reform.”

The proposal enjoys broad support from some in the technology sector. Internet companies such as Google have been a driving force behind the bill. Microsoft had opposed one of the provisions of the Bill, but is now expressing support for the legislation after that provision was removed.

Opposition to Innovation ACT

Opponents say that the Innovation Act as currently written weakens our patent system and will have unintended consequences on U.S. inventors. These additional changes to the patent system will result in a shift in the balance of patent ownership, favoring large and better financed companies over startups, investors and inventors who have been responsible for some of the most historic and groundbreaking discoveries in our nation’s history.

The Biotechnology Industry Group (BIO) did not support the Innovation Act because it believed that it would undermine biotech research and innovation. Daniel Seaton noted on BIO’s Patently Biotech blog, “the Act would ultimately make it more difficult for patent holders with legitimate claims to protect their intellectual property…Provisions in the legislation would erect unreasonable barriers to access justice for innovators, especially small start-ups that must be able to defend their businesses against patent infringement in a timely and cost-effective manner, and without needless and numerous procedural hurdles or other obstacles.”

Joe Panetta, President and CEO of Biocom, San Diego’s biotechnology organization, expressed similar sentiments, stating, “Not only does H.R.3309 fail to adequately address the abusive litigation practices it aims to curb, but it would place burdensome and unnecessary requirements and penalties on all patent holders. The bill is likely to inadvertently harm the world’s greatest innovation system by limiting legitimate patent holders’ ability to assert their rights.”

The Independent Inventors of America against Current Patent Legislation, representing independent inventors and small patent-based businesses across the country disputes the claim that patent infringement litigation has escalated. Their January 2014 petition states “The Government Accounting Office Report required by the America Invents Act finds that there is no ‘patent troll’ problem. Data supporting the claim of billions of dollars of reported cost cannot be verified and actually represent primarily voluntary and court directed license agreements for valid patents. In addition, analysis of patent litigation shows that the number of patent suits relative to the number of patents issued today remains consistent over the 200 plus year history of the patent system with the exception of a short period prior to the Civil War when the rate was higher than it is today. The reports supporting this latest round of legislation are simply not valid.”

They argue that “what is being characterized as a “patent troll,” and the target of the proposed legislation, is really an investor. As individual inventors and small patent-based businesses, we need investors to practice and protect our inventions. A patent is sometimes the sole asset we can leverage to attract that investment. Damaging investors therefore damages inventors.”

Their main reasons for objecting to the Act are:

Loser Pays – would significantly increase the risk and cost of defending a patent and “could be fatal to a large percentage of inventions.”

“Joinder” clause – allows investors to be personally liable for legal fees if inventor loses lawsuit, so this would severely limit investment in new technologies.

Patent Term Adjustment – eliminates a patent adjustment for a delay in patent issuance caused by the U. S. Patent Office (Note: Patents are granted for 17 years, but if it takes five years to get a patent, the patent term would be only 12 years instead of 17.)

The petition states, “This legislation will levy grave harm upon independent inventors and small patent-based businesses, as well as the investors we need to help commercialize new technologies and to protect our inventions.” They “stand firmly against the proposed legislation and any future legislation that would weaken the American Patent System.”

Members of the governing body of the San Diego Inventors Forum, of which I am a member, signed the petition. Adrian Pelkus, SDIF President, stated, “The Innovation Act (H.R. 3309) horrifies me with the path that allows corporations to beat up on small inventors…Financial ruin for inventors will be extremely easy due to the nature of startups, meaning most inventors could lose their fledgling businesses disputing challenges to issued Intellectual Property.

To dissuade investors by increasing risk that the IP in the project they are investing in will be challenged (perhaps even frivolously just to stop them from progressing to market) will grind innovation to a standstill.

At a time when we need American ingenuity and investors to rebuild our economy, taking steps to diminish our rights as inventors is un-American, economically dumb and intellectually suicidal. Stifling innovation in a technologically based society is a sure path to economic ruin which is why the USPTO system was originally designed to reward not punish the inventor. We must not allow big multinational corporations the ability to squash. Any and all actions to stop this bill must be enacted.”

Gary Klein, V. P. Public Policy, of San Diego’s CONNECT organization, stated why they oppose the Act:  “A startup company’s main asset is its intellectual property. Most investors’ first question to startups is about how their technology is protected. The Innovation Act that passed the House has several provisions – fee shifting, covered business methods, joinder rules, discovery and customer stay – that will have some very serious adverse consequences for small/startup companies, universities and research institutions, as well as companies who use licensing as a business model.”

Join us in signing the petition and contact your Senator to ask them to oppose all of the similar bills that have been introduced in the Senate.

Should California Copy Ohio’s Economic Development Policies?

February 4th, 2014

Ohio’s Governor and economic development agencies may not be visiting California companies to woo them back to Ohio as Texas Governor Rick Perry has been doing, but I would say the answer is “yes” to this question. California would do well to emulate the successful economic development policies of central Ohio surrounding its capital city of Columbus.

Recessions usually didn’t affect this region very much, but the Great Recession was different. In 2009, business leaders formed Columbus 2020 to address the effects of the recession on the 11-county region surrounding the state capital. It is now a private, nonprofit entity incorporated as both a 501(c) (6) and a 501(c) (3) (Columbus 2020 Foundation) and has become a collaboration between business leaders, government, and educational institutions. Its mission is to generate opportunity and build capacity for economic growth throughout Central Ohio.

To achieve this mission, the founders set the following goals to achieve by the year 2020:

  • Add 150,000 net new jobs
  • Increase personal per capita income by 30 percent
  • Add $8 billion of capital investment
  • Be recognized as a national leader in economic development

The plan to achieve these goals is:

  • Retain and expand the companies and industries that call the Columbus Region home today
  • Attract major employers to establish operations in the Columbus Region
  • Create more commercial enterprises by leveraging research assets and entrepreneurs
  • Improve civic infrastructure that enhances the economic development environment

In my interview with Kenny McDonald, CEO of Columbus 2020, he said, “The key factor of our success was starting with the vision of the business leaders that formed Columbus 2020 and having corporate leaders that are willing to engage in the process. You need both vision and engagement. There has been a real partnership between business, government, and educational institutions.”

He added, “We take a holistic view of trade and investment, as many of the companies in the region have a global footprint, and take time to understand what is driving business. The business climate has improved, especially for companies that sell in the U. S., and we’ve noticed that many companies are reshoring back to the US as part of their strategy to regionalize. The U. S. has never been more competitive, and our markets remain attractive, while there remains instability elsewhere in the world. Companies that had a plant in China or India to export to the U. S. are bringing production back to the U. S., to sell to the U. S., while some companies are bringing back work to export to other countries.”

He said, “Honda of America, which has a significant presence in the Columbus Region, recently announced that they were planning to export more to countries outside of the U. S. Honda’s supply chain and other companies that are part of the global automotive supply chain are evidence of the trend to regionalize. It’s been recommended that foreign companies, especially mid-size companies, regionalize by having a plant in the U. S. to reduce risks that disrupt the supply chain.”

The region has a population of only 2 million, but has 15 Fortune 1000 companies, such as Cardinal Health, The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company, Big Lots, L Brands (including Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works, Express, and Nationwide.)

There is a special industrial park, the Personal Care and Beauty Campus, built up near Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works, where all of types of companies in their supply chain are located, representing about 2,000 jobs.

Middle market companies are also an important part of the Columbus Region economy. There are 1,313 businesses that have between $10 million and $1 billion in annual revenue. Even though they represent only 2.3 percent of business establishments in the Region, they employ 15.4 percent of the private sector workforce and have an outsized presence in manufacturing, headquarters and back office functions, and other key industries.

The Columbus Region is home to 63 colleges and university campuses with a total enrollment of nearly 150,000 students and more than 22,000 annual graduates. It is also home to the largest concentration of PhDs in the Midwest, and has more PhDs than the national average. The Ohio State University – the state’s flagship university and one of the country’s leading research institutions – has more than 56,000 students at its main campus in Columbus.

Businesses in the Columbus Region benefit from:

  • No personal property tax
  • No inventory tax
  • No state corporate income tax

Ohio offers the following tax incentives:

  • Job Creation Tax Credit
  • Ohio Enterprise Zone Program
  • Community Reinvestment Areas
  • Research and Development Investment Tax Credit

Ohio also offers several unique loan and grant programs as additional incentives for companies to relocate in the region.

The chart below shows the largest manufacturers in the Columbus region:

Honda of America Mfg. Inc. Automotive 9,433
Whirlpool Corporation Appliances 2,344
TS TECH Co, Ltd. Automotive 2,078
Abbott Nutrition Food & Beverage 2,055
Emerson Electric Co. Utilities 1,720
Worthington Industries Inc. Steel 1,390
Ariel Corporation Energy 1,265
Boehringer Medical 1,250
The Anchor Hocking Co. Glass 1,202
The Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. Lawn Care Products 1,165
Rolls-Royce Energy Systems Machinery 1,146
Commercial Vehicle Group Automotive 1,125
Owens Corning Corporation Automotive 1,011
Lancaster Colony Corporation Food & Beverage 856
Mettler-Toledo International Precision Instruments 800
Jefferson Industries Automotive 750
Cardington Yutaka Technologies, Inc. Automotive 725
Columbus Castings Steel 700

As a result of these policies, Columbus is now ranked as the 8th most affordable location in the U. S. for corporate headquarters. The cost of doing business is half the cost of New York City, Los Angeles, and Silicon Valley. For all of these reasons, Columbus has become the state’s largest and fastest growing city.

Columbus 2020 is well on the way to not only achieving, but exceeding these goals by 2020 as shown below:

As of August 2013, more than 53,000 jobs have been created in the Columbus Region since Columbus 2020′s founding in 2010. As of December2013, $3.71 billion of capital investment has been added to the Columbus Region since 2010. As of 2012, personal per capita income in the Columbus Region has increased 10.8 percent since 2010, from $38,547 to $42,728.

California’s Governor Brown and the State legislature should review what the Columbus 2020 organization has accomplished in revitalizing the economy of central Ohio. California’s manufacturers would love to benefit from having no corporate income tax and no inventory tax, as well as having a Job Creation Tax Credit and a Research and Development Investment Tax Credit

The new hiring tax credit and partial exemption of certain property from California’s sales and use tax are meager benefits being offered to manufacturers as part of Assembly Bill 93 and Senate Bill 90 that went into effect January 1st. Our California legislature needs to “stop fiddling while Rome is burning,” so that we will be able to stem the tide of companies moving out of California and add more than the pitiful 7,900 manufacturing jobs we have added since 2010 after losing  over 625,000 manufacturing jobs since 2001.



Has NAFTA Benefited Americans?

January 28th, 2014

By this question, I mean the American people, not America, our country, nor American corporations. There can be diplomatic benefits to trade agreements, such as strengthening our relationships with countries that are allies in the world’s political arena. There can be benefits to American-based global corporations to open doors to new markets in specific countries. These are two of the reasons touted by “free trade” proponents as benefits to negotiating trade agreements.

To discern the answer to the title’s question, let us examine whether the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has benefited Americans as a whole. NAFTA was negotiated under President Bill Clinton and went into effect in January 1994. The agreement was supposed to reduce market barriers to trade between the United States, Canada and Mexico to reduce the cost of goods, increase our surplus trade balance with Mexico, reduce our trade deficit with Canada, and create 170,000 jobs a year. Twenty years later, the fallacy of these supposed benefits is well documented.

According to the report “NAFTA at 20” released this month by Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, “More than 845,000 specific U.S. workers have been certified for Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) as having lost their jobs due to imports from Canada and Mexico or the relocation of factories to those countries.”

Major corporations such as General Electric, Caterpillar, and Chrysler announced they would add jobs for increased sales to Mexico; instead they eliminated jobs. For example, General Electric testified before Congress saying, “We are looking at another $7.5 billion in potential sales over the next 10 years. These sales could support 10,000 jobs for General Electric and its suppliers. In reality, “General Electric has eliminated 4,936 U.S. jobs since NAFTA due to rising imports from Canada and Mexico or decisions to offshore production to those countries.”

The report also documents the fact that “the small pre-NAFTA U.S. trade surplus with Mexico turned into a massive new trade deficit and the pre-NAFTA U.S. trade deficit with Canada expanded greatly.” According to Census Bureau data, in 1993, the non-inflation adjusted U.S. trade surplus with Mexico was $1.6 billion, and in 2013, the U. S. trade deficit had grown to $50.1 billion. The non-inflation adjust U. S. deficit with Canada grew from $4.4 billion in 1994 to $7.4 billion in 2013. Together the Mexico and Canada inflation-adjusted trade deficits “have morphed into a combined NAFTA trade deficit of $181 billion.”

Most people do not understand how trade deficits hurt them. They do not realize that when our country imports more goods than it exports, we go in debt as a country to pay for these goods. We then have to borrow money or increase taxes to have enough money to run our government. This is why we now have a nearly $17 trillion national debt. As individuals, we would soon go bankrupt if we did not earn enough money to pay our bills and had to keep borrowing money, but the government can just keep printing money. The problem with printing more money is that the value of the dollar keeps going down, so each of us has to work harder to make more money to try to keep our pay equal to what we earned previously.

According to the Coalition for a Prosperous America, trade deficits also diminish the U. S. Gross Domestic Product since GDP equals the sum of Consumption, Investment, Government Procurement, and Net Exports (Exports – Imports). Our trade deficit in 2011 alone shaved an astounding 4% from overall U. S. GDP.

Our efforts to keep our earnings of equal value have not succeeded because the report states, “NAFTA has contributed to downward pressure on U.S. wages and growing income inequality.” What this means is that as Americans lost their higher paying manufacturing jobs, they had to compete with the glut of other Americans for the non-offshorable, lower paying, low-skill jobs, in retail, hospitality, and food service. “According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, two out of every three displaced manufacturing workers who were rehired in 2012 experienced a wage reduction, most of them taking a pay cut of greater than 20 percent.” The result is an increasing gap between the rich and the poor and a shrinking middle class.

Manufacturing jobs are the foundation of the middle class; these jobs raised the average daily wage between 1900 and 2000 from $2.50 a day to $96.00 a day. If we lose the majority of our manufacturing industry, we will lose our middle class.

We were supposed to realize the benefits of lower prices as consumers, but in contrast, the report states, “Despite a 188 percent rise in food imports from Canada and Mexico under NAFTA, the average nominal price of food in the United States has jumped 65 percent since the deal went into effect.”

As a result, our “average annual U.S. agricultural trade deficit with Mexico and Canada under NAFTA stands at $800 million, more than twice the pre-NAFTA level.” American ranchers and cattlemen have been hurt by the 130 percent increase of beef imports from Mexico and Canada since NAFTA took effect, “and today U.S. consumption of “NAFTA” beef tops $1.3 billion annually.” U.S. food processors moved to Mexico to take advantage of low wages, resulting in a loss of jobs for Americans at U. S. food processing plants.

The report was a revelation to me about an unintended consequence of NAFTA ? the dramatic increase of illegal immigrants to the U. S. in the past 20 years. According to the report, the increased export of subsidized U. S. corn to Mexico resulted in the destruction of “…the livelihoods of more than one million Mexican campesino farmers and about 1.4 million additional Mexican workers whose livelihoods depended on agriculture.”

The report quotes an exposé, “Trade Secrets,” by John Judis in the April 9, 2008 issue of New Republic, which stated. “Wages dropped so precipitously that today the income of a farm laborer is one-third that of what it was before NAFTA. As jobs disappeared and wages sank, many of these rural Mexicans emigrated, swelling the ranks of the 12 million illegal immigrants living incognito and competing for low-wage jobs in the United States.”

As a result, “The desperate migration of those displaced from Mexico’s rural economy pushed down wages in Mexico’s border maquiladora factory zone and contributed to a doubling of Mexican immigration to the United States following NAFTA’s implementation.”

Prior to NAFTA, jobs at maquiladora factories were responsible for a growing middle class in cities such as Tijuana and Tecate in Baja California, Mexico. The report states that “Real wages in Mexico have fallen significantly below pre-NAFTA levels as price increases for basic consumer goods have exceeded wage increases. A minimum wage earner in Mexico today can buy 38 percent fewer consumer goods as on the day that NAFTA took effect.”

The lower wages at Mexican maquiladoras since NAFTA explains why Mexico is now benefitting from “nearsourcing,” which is returning manufacturing from China where wages have risen 15-20% year over year for the past five years. Taking into consideration the other costs and hidden costs of doing business offshore that comprise a Total Cost of Ownership analysis; Mexico is now more competitive than the coastal areas of China’s manufacturing industry.

Of course, the influx of illegal immigrants from Mexico is another factor in the downward pressure on wages in the United States. Today, only 1.9 million hourly workers make $20 per hour, which is a marker for jobs that provide a middle-class standard of living, down 60% since 1979, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In conclusion, we can clearly see from the well-documented evidence that NAFTA has not benefited the American people. It may have benefited American corporations that expanded their sales in Mexico or moved manufacturing to Mexico to increase their profits. However, I am sure that none of the American company owners of the more than 60,000 manufacturing firms that have closed since 1994 or the nearly one million American workers who lost their jobs because of NAFTA would say they benefited from this trade agreement.

The last thing we need is another free trade agreement such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement that has been negotiated behind closed doors by the Obama Administration for the past three years. We can’t afford the loss of more American jobs. What we need are trade policies that will help American manufacturers and address the predatory mercantilist policies of China, Japan, Korea, and other countries with regard to government subsidies, currency manipulation, product dumping, and intellectual property theft. We need to have balanced trade as recommended by the Coalition for a Prosperous America (CPA) in their issue paper, “21st Century Trade Agreement Principles.” As chair of the newly formed California chapter of CPA, I would welcome your support and involvement to rebuild American manufacturing, create more higher-paying manufacturing jobs, and reduce our trade deficit and national debt.

San Diego Manufacturing Trends

January 15th, 2014

From 2000 to 2011, the U. S. lost 5.8 million manufacturing jobs and 57,000 manufacturing firms closed. U.S. Department of Commerce shows that “U.S. multinational corporations… cut their work forces in the U.S. by 2.9 million during the 2000s while increasing employment overseas by 2.4 million.”

Over the last three years, we have finally seen a growth of about 526,000 manufacturing jobs nationwide for a 4.59% growth rate, but California has lagged behind the nation at only a 0.63% growth rate for 7,900 jobs gained. Mainly due to the effects of sequestration on our military/defense industry, San Diego continued to lose manufacturing jobsin 2013, losing more than 2,000 jobs from February – November.

Offshoring has been major cause of slow economic growth after Great Recession and the high unemployment has exacerbated local, state and federal budget deficits. This has resulted in a weakened middle-class, declining innovation, and lower sales levels in weakened home market.

“Reshoring”/Resurgence of “Made in USA”

A September 2003 report prepared for the U. S. Congress U. S.–China Committee on Economic and Security Review Commission, by Peter Nolan of the University of Cambridge stated, “A ‘‘herd herd ‘mentality to participate in the ‘‘Chinese miracle’’ developed among global giant corporations… Global corporations now view China as central to their long long-term strategy.”

A Stone Associates interview with Technology Forecasters (10/21/03) corroborated the fact that some companies were following this “herd mentality” in migrating to China even when it didn’t make economic sense:  “There is a herd mentality with OEMs in China China—sometimes it makes sense, sometimes it doesn’t—not always rational decision… People tell their bosses what they want to hear hear—(going to China) gives a boost to the stock valuation, but you really have to do the analysis on a case by case basis.”

Now, the offshore supply chain dynamics are changing:

  • Oil prices – tripled in the last 5 years raising shipping costs
  • Labor rates rose about 15-20% year-over-year for last 5 years in China
  • Component/material prices increasing
  • Automation/robotics in U.S. has increased productivity
  • Political instability in China – Labor riots/strikes
  • Risk of disruption from natural disasters
  • U.S. $ declining

Most companies don’t look beyond quoted unit price to make a decision of which vendor to select. They don’t do a Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) analysis, which simply stated, is an estimate of direct and indirect costs. The 13th edition of the APICS (supply chain organization) dictionary says:  ”In supply chain management, the total cost of ownership of the supply delivery system is the sum of all the costs associated with every activity of the supply stream.”

The Reshoring Initiative was founded by Harry Moser, former CEO of GF Agie Charmilles in 2010. The goal is to change the sourcing mindset from “offshored is cheaper” to “local reduces the Total Cost of Ownership” and train OEMs and suppliers on why to source local and how to use TCO Calculator. Free Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) software is provided for OEMs and suppliers/unions.

Sourcing is slowly moving back to the United States. The 2012 MIT Forum for Supply Chain Innovation Reshoring Study revealed:  61% of larger companies surveyed “are considering bringing manufacturing back to the U.S” and 15.3% of U.S. companies stated that they are “definitively” planning to re-shore activities to the U.S. In April 2012 stated that 40% of contract manufacturers had done reshoring work this year.

Manufacturing Jobs / Year

*Estimated / **Calculated 

The Reshoring Initiative has calculated reshoring’s share of manufacturing job growth since Jan. 2010 is:

Job growth: ?500,000

Reshored jobs: ?80,000

Reshoring % of total: ?15%

Now in 2013, more companies are moving their services and manufacturing operations back to the United States. Nationally, General Electric and Whirlpool have moved some appliance manufacturing back to the U. S. Caterpillar moved operations from China to Mexico and the US. Locally, EcoATM, 451 Degrees, and Solatube have reshored by moving manufacturing back to San Diego County. Some of the parts, assemblies, and products that are not cost effective to come back to the U. S. are going across the border to Baja California, Mexico, and major contract manufacturers in Tijuana, Mexico, such as Sumitronics, are experiencing significant reshoring.

The demand for “Made in USA” goods seems to be increasing and is helping the resurgence of American manufacturing in certain areas, especially true in the apparel industry. Indeed, many consumers like the quality perception boost associated with “Made in USA” labels certifying that these goods were in fact made in America. American made items are also growing in popularity because our production costs are declining while Chinese labor is actually increasing.

Offshore outsourcing will continue indefinitely. The desirable” locations for outsourcing will change over time, and the purely financial benefits of lower cost will erode over time. The challenge is to keep as much as possible within the United States, and if more companies would utilize the TCO estimator worksheet, it would help maintain and return manufacturing to America.

Additive Manufacturing

Additive Manufacturing has been hailed by ‘The Economist’ as the catalyst of ‘the third industrial revolution’ and is projected to have a significant impact on manufacturing in the near future. It has the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything. Currently about 28% of the money spent on 3D printing of parts is for final products, but it is predicted to rise to 50% by 2016 and to 80% by 2020.

The major Additive Manufacturing methods are:

  • Stereo lithography
  • 3D printing
  • Laser sintering
  • high powered laser fuses powered metals into fully dense 3D objects, layer by layer
  • Fused-deposition modeling
  • A plastic or metal wire is unwound from a coil, supplying material to an extrusion nozzle to form success layers

San Diego is blessed with hundreds of design engineering and product development companies, many of which have one or more types of Additive Manufacturing equipment. There is also a service bureau for Additive Manufacturing in Poway, Solid Concepts, which has all of the types of equipment. A few of the engineering design/product development companies with which we are familiar are:

A Squared Technologies

Clarity Design

DD Studio

D&K Engineering

Dynapac Design Group

Expertise Engineering

Fallbrook Engineering

Flex Partners

Leardon Solutions

Koncept Design

Redpoint Engineering

Triaxial Design

In addition, there is the MakerPlace in San Diego, which inventors and entrepreneurs can think of it as their “dream” garage shop for developing and producing their own products. It is a place where they can use a variety of fabrication equipment & tools to work on projects:  Woodworking, metalworking, electronics, embroidery, sewing and specialty tools such as 3D printers, laser cutters and engravers. There are even

“incubator” offices upstairs for businesses to operate out of the same building as the fab shop.

Training to meet Manufacturing Skills Gap

In 2011, the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics estimated that 2.8 million, nearly a quarter of all U.S. manufacturing workers, were 55 or older. The improvement of the manufacturing industry has been a mixed blessing because as more skilled workers are needed, the supply is limited because baby boomers are retiring or getting close to retirement. “The oldest baby boomers turned 65 on Jan. 1, 2011, and every day thereafter for about the next 19 years, some 10,000 more will reach the traditional retirement age, according to the Pew Research Center.” What makes the situation worse is that there are not enough new ones to replace them because the subsequent generations were smaller and fewer chose manufacturing as a career.

This has resulted in an insufficient number of workers trained for advanced manufacturing jobs. Modern manufacturing is highly technical and requires understanding and proficiency in a wide variety of competencies. In the past 15 years, the manufacturing industry has evolved from needing low-skilled production-type assembly workers to being highly technology-infused. Thus, it is more of a skills gap in the specific skills needed by today’s manufacturers than a shortage of skilled workers.

A key component has been the development of the (National Association of Manufacturers) NAM-Endorsed Manufacturing Skills Certification System—a system of stackable credentials applicable to all sectors in the manufacturing industry. In June 2011, President Obama announced that the Skills Certification System was the national talent solution for closing the skills gap and addressing this key issue for American manufacturers. The Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) Education Foundation leads in encouraging youth to get involved in manufacturing technologies through STEM-related activities in the K–12 levels, as well as supporting and advancing the Certification System for manufacturing skills.

San Diego is fortunate to have more opportunities for training in manufacturing skills than many other regions as shown below:

  • San Diego City College – AA degree in Manufacturing Technology, Machining Certificate
  • SDCCD Continuing Education Center – metal fab, welding, plasma cutting
  • Miramar College – biotech/biomedical lab technicians
  • Mira Costa College – Machining Certificate
  • San Pasqual High School – two year machining program
  • Chaparell High School (Charter) – two year machining program
  • Quality Controlled Manufacturing Inc. – machining training and apprenticeship
  • Workshops for Warriors (non-profit) – machining, sheet metal fab, welding, programming

Licensing vs. starting a company

As a member of the steering committee for the San Diego Inventors Forum (SDIF), I have noticed that in the last two years, more inventors are planning to license their technology vs. starting a company (probably about 70%) compared to about 50% previously). However, this trend doesn’t hold true for CONNECT’s Springboard program for entrepreneurs according to Ruprecht von Butlar. In an interview, he said, “The demand for the Springboard program has stayed consistent over the past few years, but the composition has changed ? more technology, biotech/biomedical, and life science. All of the entrepreneurs in their program have either already formed companies or plan to form companies rather than licensing their technology.”

I also interviewed Dr. Rosibel Ochoa, Executive Director of the UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering von Liebig Entrepreneurism Center, and she said they have 30 teams in their program, and all of them plan to start companies rather than licensing their technology.” The Center serves UCSD professors, graduate students, undergraduate students, and alumni. The professors are the only persons more interested in licensing their technology rather than leaving UCSD to be part of a team to start a company.

The difference between the Inventors Forum and the other two programs may be the fact that most of the inventors coming to our meeting in the past two years have been in the “Baby Boom” generation, now between the ages of 48 – 68, and they may realize by now that they don’t have the entrepreneurial skills to found and develop a company. Also, many of them are serial inventors, who enjoy the technical part of inventing a new product, and then want to go on to working on their next invention. Many of the under 40 inventors seem to be more interested in starting a company.

Outlook for 2014


–     Reshoring is creating more manufacturing jobs and generating more regional GDP

–     Additive manufacturing is accelerating development of new products

–     Broad access to skills training is available in San Diego


–     Unknown economic impact of Obamacare for manufacturers because of employer mandate

–     Possibility of full sequestration being restored to pay for extending unemployment benefits

If the current military/defense budget remains in effect without the restoration of full sequestration that affected San Diego adversely last year, this year should be better than 2013 for local manufacturers. All of us in San Diego’s manufacturing industry certainly hope so.