Archive for September, 2017

How Tax Reform Could Grow our Economy and Create Jobs

Tuesday, September 19th, 2017

Over 150 countries in the world have shifted a significant portion of their tax mix to border adjustable consumption taxes – value added taxes (VATs) or goods and services taxes (GSTs).  Consumption taxes are “border adjustable taxes” and allowed under World Trade Organization rules. Consumption taxes are a tax on consumption – as opposed to income, wealth, property, or wages. Consumption taxes are called goods and services taxes in Canada, Australia, New Zealand or value added taxes in other countries.  They are usually a tax only on the incremental value that is added at each level of the supply chain to a product, material or service. Most countries VATs or GSTs are tariff and subsidy replacements, mimicking a currency devaluation if a country raises the VAT or GST and uses proceeds to lower purely domestic taxes and costs.

After 40 years of multilateral tariff reduction, other countries replaced tariffs with VATs but the U.S. did not. American export­ers face nearly the same border taxes (tariffs + consumption tax) as they did in the early 1970s. Foreign VATs are export subsidies as they are rebated to companies that export their goods. For example:

  • Mexico established a 15% VAT after NAFTA
  • Central American countries established a 12% VAT after CAFTA
  • Germany raised its VAT to 19% in 2007 to fund business tax reduction for trade competitiveness

The rates range from 12% to 24% and average 17% globally. This means that virtually all foreign countries tax our exports at 17% on top of tariffs. They subsidize do­mestic shipments abroad with the average 17% tax rebate. The figure below illustrates how it works.

U.S. Local Price = $100


China Local Price = $100


U.S. Price PLUS 17% VAT = $117.00


Chinese Price MINUS 17% VAT rebate = $85.47


The map below shows which nations have consumption taxes (red) and which do not (blue).


Because foreign consumption taxes are border adjustable, companies that export are double taxed. They pay U. S. taxes and the foreign border tax.  Importers can sell cheaper products because they receive a consumption tax rebate from their home country and do not pay U. S. VAT.

Eliminate Payroll Tax Burden with the most efficient VAT in world

In written testimony to the House Ways and Means Committee of the U. S. House of Representatives on May 18, 2017, the Coalition for a Prosperous America (CPA) recommended “a new border adjustable consumption tax (Goods and Services Tax) that funds a full credit against all payroll taxes.”

Highlights from the testimony paraphrased or quoted include: “A new U.S. goods and services tax (GST) of approximately 12% should be enacted to shift taxation to consumption using the credit/invoice method. The proceeds should be credited against payroll taxes paid by all workers and businesses. GST proceeds should be applied as a full credit against the 15.3% rate of payroll taxes to reduce the cost of labor in the US while increasing after tax wages.

Exported goods and services would receive a full rebate. Imports would pay the GST. Small business with less than, for example, one million dollars could be exempted without sacrificing significant tax revenue.”

CPA’s written testimony explained, “Domestic prices vs. wages would not worsen because the payroll tax is embedded in the cost of all goods and services. Thus, eliminating the payroll tax lowers the prices for goods and services or increases wages depending upon the particular competitive forces in each product sector. A GST raises goods and services prices, but the GST/payroll tax combination would largely cancel each other out thereby holding the domestic economy harmless.

The more modern GSTs implemented by free market economies are in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The compliance and administration burdens are relatively low in comparison to other taxation methods. The U. S. can learn from those and other countries’ experiences to implement the most modern, streamlined GST in the world.”

In summary, the proposed GST would

  • Reduce the cost of labor in the U. S.
  • Give every worker a raise
  • Lower price of U/ S. exports
  • Levy a tax on imports

The following are some of the benefits of a payroll tax credit for manufacturers, ranchers, and farmers:

  • Regressiveness of VAT offset by elimination of regressive payroll tax
  • VAT costs on all domestic producers are offset
  • No impact on prices of domestic goods/services
  • Imported goods/services prices increase
  • Cost of production for exports reduced

Change to a Sales Factor Apportionment (SFA) Border Adjustable Profit Tax

 Last year, I wrote an article about corporate tax reform at the federal level based on the Sales Factor Apportionment Framework proposed by one of the members of the Coalition for a Prosperous America, Bill Parks. Mr. Parks is a retired finance professor and founder of NRS Inc., an Idaho-based paddle sports accessory maker. He asserted that “Tax reform proposals won’t fix our broken corporate system… [because] they fail to fix the unfairness of domestic companies paying more tax than multinational enterprises in identical circumstances.”

He explained that multinational enterprises (MNEs) can use cost accounting practices to transfer costs and profits within the company to achieve different goals. “Currently MNEs manipulate loopholes in our tax system to avoid paying U. S. taxes… MNEs can legitimately choose a cost that reduces or increases the profits of its subsidiaries in different countries. Because the United States is a relatively high-tax country, MNEs will choose the costs that minimize profits in the United States and maximize them in what are usually lower-tax countries.”

The way his plan would work is that the amount of corporate taxes that a multinational company would pay “would be determined solely on the percent of that company’s world-wide sales made to U. S. customers. Foreign MNEs would also be taxed the same way on their U. S. income leveling the playing field between domestic firms and foreign and domestic MNEs.”.

The Board of the Directors of the Coalition for a Prosperous America chose to support Sales Factor Tax Apportionment and included the following in their testimony to the House Ways and Means Committee:

“The US corporate tax system harms America’s trade competitiveness, overtaxes income from wages, under taxes consumption, and is bad at actually collecting what is owed. It also enables rampant base erosion through transferring profits to tax havens or countries with lower corporate tax rates. Full reform centered around destination based, border adjustment principles can result in an efficient, trade competitive, and largely tamper-proof tax system.

SFA is a destination based profit tax. Pretax income is allocated to the US in proportion to the percentage of a company’s total sales in the U. S. Pre-tax income earned outside the US is not taxed. Tax rates can be lowered substantially while still meeting revenue targets.”

The Coalition for a Prosperous America favors “a border adjustable business tax (for all entity types) which allocates pre-tax income based upon the destination of sales. Formulary apportionment based upon a single sales factor (sales factor apportionment or SFA) is well established at the state level. It solves most of the base erosion/profit shifting and tax haven abuse problems facing tax writing committees. SFA eliminates the disparate tax treatment between domestic companies (who pay the full income tax burden on worldwide income), multinationals (many of which shift profits to tax havens), and foreign companies (which pay a territorial income tax).

A broad based 12% GST could raise $1.4 trillion in new revenue. Payroll tax revenue in 2015 was 33% of total tax revenue at $1.056 trillion.”

CPA asserts that U. S. “trade competitiveness would be substantially improved because exports are freed from both the GST and payroll tax burden. Imports never include the cost of the U. S. payroll tax, but would pay the GST. This effect has been called Fiscal Devaluation because it mimics a currency devaluation for trade purposes. It only works if you combine a new GST with a ubiquitous domestic tax or cost reduction. The optimal domestic tax reduction is the payroll tax burden.”

The reason for CPA’s support is that “SFA taxes pre-tax income allocated to the U. S. but not profits allocated to foreign sales.  Domestic firms can legitimately ‘avoid’ taxation by exporting more. Profits from imports are subject to tax. Domestic, multinational and foreign firms are on an equal tax footing.

The current corporate tax system cannot be fixed because it allows the fiction of intra-firm transactions to erode the tax base.  Multinational companies use them to self-deal, strictly for tax purposes, shifting income to tax haven jurisdictions.  Companies sell products or services to themselves, governed only by an ‘arm’s length’ principle which allows them to create their own pricing terms subject to a nearly unenforceable ‘fair market value’ constraint.

The intra-company transactions are not free market, ‘arm’s length’ or true third-party transactions. The only economically meaningful ‘sale’ is one to a true third party outside the company.  As much of 30% of tax revenue may be lost from profit shifting to tax haven jurisdictions which have effective tax rates of 0-4%. These include Bermuda, Netherlands, UK Caribbean Islands, Ireland, Luxembourg, Singapore, and Switzerland.”

The CPA testimony provides the following example: “Assume a multinational corporation has worldwide sales of $100 billion, $50 billion sales in the U. S. and company-wide pretax income of $10 billion. Fifty percent of the profits, under SFA, are apportioned to the US.  So, the profits to be taxed in the USA in this case are $5 Billion.  Using a 20% corporate tax rate yields a SFA tax of $1 billion. Intra-company transactions with a Bermuda subsidiary would be irrelevant.

Merely lowering the U. S. corporate tax rate for example to 15% without further reform would not eliminate the tax competition with tax haven jurisdictions. SFA would make tax havens irrelevant because true sales to any foreign country would be ignored.  IRS litigation centered around the proper fair market value of intra-firm transactions would disappear. Only profits allocated to the US in proportion to true third-party sales would be taxable.”

CPA asserts that “SFA would allow a significant reduction in the business tax rate while collecting similar revenue because base erosion is largely fixed. By one estimate, a 13% corporate tax rate under SFA would collect the same revenue as the current system…”

In conclusion, CPA recommends, “The U. S. tax system should shift to more border adjustability through destination based taxation. If the House GOP Blueprint does not gain Senate or White House support, the Ways and Means Committee has solid alternatives to meet their goals. CPA supports enacting (1) a new GST to fund a full credit against payroll taxes, plus (2) a shift to sales factor apportionment of global profits as an alternative to our current corporate income tax system.”

We need to take bold action if we want to rebuild our manufacturing industry to create jobs and prosperity. As I visit district offices of our California Congressional delegation as chair of the California chapter of CPA, I am encouraged by the interest these recommendations for tax reform are generating on a bi-partisan basis.


Do Low American Savings Rate Cause Trade Deficits?

Saturday, September 2nd, 2017

Mainstream trade news continues to assert that trade deficits don’t matter. Economists help reporters write these fake news stories by claiming that America’s failure to save money is the problems, not foreign trade cheating. On June 20, 2017, the Coalition for a Prosperous America released a research paper titled “Do Savings Rates Cause Trade Deficits? by Michael Stumo (CEO) and Jeff Ferry (Research Director) that shows why globalist economists are wrong about what causes trade deficits, offshoring and job losses.

They write, “A popular, but misleading, claim is that low US savings, relative to investment, causes our trade deficit. For exam­ple, Harvard professor and former Reagan administration advisor Martin Feldstein.has said that the US fiscal defi­cit, which indeed reduces national savings, is the cause of the trade deficit. ‘If a country consumes more than it produces [thus saving little], it must import more than it exports.’”

These macroeconomists “claim that Americans spend too much, save too little, produce too little, and thus must import to support their gluttony.” They are incorrect.

White House economists use the “savings rate causes trade deficits” claim to create the false illusion that nothing can be done. But the real problem is that a few foreign countries – like China, Japan, Germany and South Korea – have economic strategies to overproduce, under consume and ship their overcapacity to the US. Their growth strategy is their full employment program. They export their unemployment to the US.


To macroeconomists, the ”National savings, investment and net trade are variables within equations or formulas known as ‘national income identities’. Because the variables are within the identity, they are called “endogenous’ and are explained by the equation.” But they do not explain what causes the changes.

“The basic Gross Domestic Product equation is referred to as a national income identity, expressed in the following equation:

GDP = C + I + G + NE

C = Consumption; I = Investment, G =  Government and NE = Net Exports. Net Exports are also expressed as X – M in another version of this equation. When the Net Exports is a negative figure as it has been since 1979, this reduces the GDP.  According to previous research by the Coalition for a Prosperous America, “the annual trade deficit has reduced each year’s GDP by some 3% to 5.5% each year, and those reductions compound over time.”

The purpose of the paper is to explain “how to distinguish (a) causation from (b) math­ematical interrelationships in the national income identity or equation that underlies this debate. For reasons explained below, real world changes (exogenous factors) outside the identity are the true causes. These real-world changes directly impact one or more variables within the identity, transmitting through the equation by mathematical necessity. In short, na­tional savings is related to the trade deficit in an accounting sense but does not cause it.”

Government policies often affect each one of the variables of the above equation. For example, the income tax rate may affect Consumption.  If rates are high, then American consumers have less money to devote to consumption.  If Government consumption and expenditures through procurement is down as it was under Sequestration, then companies that sell to the government make less money and have less money to buy products as business and corporate consumers.

To clarify the relationship between savings and trade deficits, the authors cite Robert Scott of the Economic Policy Institute: “Accounting identities do not, and cannot, explain the causal relationships between savings, investment, and trade flows. Do low savings rates cause trade deficits, or does causation run in the other direction? A trade deficit reduces the incomes of domestic workers, pushing many into lower income brackets. Families with lower incomes gen­erally find it much harder to save. Therefore, increasing trade deficits can and do reduce national savings.”


International economists in important positions “im­plicitly argue that no policy action is necessary or effective because US citizens simply do not save enough. We have caused our own problem. Our immoral, gotta-spend-it-now culture must become more austere.”

However, the authors explain that “National savings, in the context of the national in­come identity, is the aggregate of household, business and government savings. It is the extent to which national in­come exceeds private and public spending.

Household savings can, for example, go down if family earnings fall but they spend the same as before on necessities. Taxes or interest rates could go up causing con­sumers to spend less. Neither cause has anything to do with financial morality.”

Instead, government policies can and do affect savings rates. The authors state, “Surplus countries such as Germany and China have been deficit countries in the past… with low savings rates and trade deficits. Their cultural propensity to spend or save did not miraculously change…policy changes in the 1990’s and 2000’s caused trans­fers of wealth from households to industry forcing less consumption and more production at increased scale and with very competitive prices. The result was more national savings and trade surpluses.”


The authors show how the oversupply (overproduction) of some countries is transferred to other countries causing them to become deficit countries.  They write; “All countries cannot run trade surpluses. Offset­ting deficits must exist elsewhere. The primary reason for a country to engineer persistent surpluses is to spur domestic employment by excessive reliance upon foreign consumers. The deficit country, however, experiences de­valuation of its formerly well employed labor.”

They point out that in 2005, “then-Federal Re­serve Board chairman Ben Bernanke argued that the large and growing U.S. current account deficit is caused not by anything happening in the U.S., but by decisions taken by emerging economy nations to run very high savings rates, pursue export-led growth, and lend money to other countries, especially the U.S. He called the situation a ‘global savings glut.’ These excessive inflows of foreign savings raise the U.S. dollar exchange rate, drive down our interest rates, and force our economy into a trade deficit.”

The method by which this transfer takes place is described by Professor Michael Pettis, quoted in the paper:

“If any country takes steps to change the gap between its total domestic savings and its total domestic investment, then those steps must also affect its trade balance. Because a change in one country’s trade balance must be matched with an opposite change in the trade balance of all other countries, there must also be an opposite and equal change in the gap between the total domestic savings of the rest of the world and the total domestic investment of the rest of the world.”

Other factors affecting this transfer are “wage suppression (intentionally as in Germany) or because high volumes of new workers are entering the labor market (as in Asia) and redirect household resources to investment. The result is that productivity increases faster than wages. Increased production outstrips the ability of domestic households to consume. Domestic supply exceeds demand and the coun­try must rely upon foreign consumers to soak up the excess.”

What Tactics Do Surplus Countries Use?

The authors explain that “Export-oriented or investment-oriented countries can utilize policies to reduce consumption, increase pro­duction and export at very competitive prices.”


  • Wage growth is constrained to well be­low the growth in worker productivity
  • Undervalued exchange rate…for much of the past two decades
  • Government subsidizes Chinese manufacturing exporters
  • Financial repression of Chi­nese households
  • Vast amounts of surplus labor that produces more than it consumes.

In essence, the authors state “They export oversupply, deflation and unemployment. The result is excessive reliance on demand from consum­ers in deficit countries.”


  • Holds down domestic wages
  • German banks provide direct loans and vendor financing to foreign countries to buy German products
  • Impose a 19% consumption tax (VAT) that is rebated to exporters

As a result, “The eco­nomic distress caused by the German-policy-induced cri­sis in other eurozone countries perversely holds down the value of the euro” making Germany’s exports more price competitive in the global marketplace.


The authors present the following recommended solutions to reduce trade deficits:

  1. Fix currency misalignment, especially the overvalued dollar.
  2. Implement a US consumption tax, such as a goods and services tax (GST), in a revenue neutral and distribution neutral way by completely offset­ting the payroll tax burden.
  3. Adopt a territorial business income tax called sales factor apportionment (SFA)
  4. Consider broadly applied tariffs to counter the unearned ad­vantages of trade surplus countries
  5. Apply selec­tive tariffs to high value or strategic products that the US wants to produce

In conclusion, the authors state: “…the level of US savings and invest­ment cannot and do not ‘cause’ our trade deficit. The true causes are surplus country policies, misaligned exchange rates and global labor oversupply. Persistent trade surplus countries export their oversupply and unemployment to deficit countries characterized by open economies and open financial markets. Policy leaders must become adept at determining the actual causes, how they are transmit­ted through national income identities and how they re­sult in imbalances. Effective policy responses can then be designed to rebalance trade and capital flows, increase US employment and restore our economic growth.”

The paper shows why America’s economy grew when the majority of manufactured goods were Made in America and consumed by US consumers.  The wages paid to the manufacturing workers who produced these products allowed them to save more because they earned more. When the U. S. lost 5.8 million higher paying manufacturing jobs from the 2000 – 2010 because American production was offshored to China and other Asian countries, American workers no longer had any money to save. The overproduction of trade surplus countries resulted in a glut of cheap imported products that further depressed or destroyed some American manufacturing industry sectors. The cheap imported goods that consumers bought became a curse rather than a blessing.

Therefore, the preposterous premise of many macroeconomists that low savings create trade deficits was proven false. It is incomprehensible to me why macroeconomists don’t understand that you can’t save if you don’t have a job or your non-manufacturing job is paying way less than your manufacturing job did. This is why I strongly support the recommended policies of the Coalition for a Prosperous America and urge you to do so also.

Denver’s Project DIY Increases Knowledge of Advanced Manufacturing Careers

Saturday, September 2nd, 2017

During the first week of summer, June 5 – 9, 2017, the Community College of Denver (CCD) Advanced Manufacturing Center (AMC) hosted their second week-long camp for high school girls, giving them the opportunity to learn hands on about advanced manufacturing, to include machining, welding, architecture, and engineering graphics/3D printing. The camp was sponsored by The Women’s Foundation of Colorado, Denver Public School’s CareerConnect, and the Soeurs de Coeur Fund.

CCD’s Advanced Manufacturing Center is a state-of-the-art 33,280-square-foot facility offering degree and certificate programs in machining and welding. CCD also offers continuing education courses for CNC machinists, welding certifications, and wire EDM training allowing for workforce advancement.

When I interviewed Janet Colvin, Manufacturing Pathways Campus Coordinator at the Advanced Manufacturing Center at CCD, she said that they had two one-week summer camps in 2016 for nine girls each week, but this year, they had 28 girls in a one-week camp. This format change allowed girls to participate in paid six-week post camp internships with local companies that are involved with the Denver Public School (DPS) CareerConnect program.

With regard to the selection process, Janet explained that the AMC staff worked with DPS staff Denver Public School to select girls who were interested in the engineering, manufacturing and “Maker” career pathways.

She described how each morning began with the students doing team building activities, campus tours, and other role playing exercises. The following is a summary of the week’s activities as Janet described them:

On Monday, the girls visited an architectural company, RNL Design, where two female architects spoke to the girls about careers in that field and gave them a tour of their design center. The girls completed an architectural drawing using SketchUp, origami building project, and participated in an architecture photo scavenger hunt in downtown Denver.

Tuesday was devoted to engineering, graphic and mechanical design at the CCD Mechanical Engineering Graphics lab. Each girl was able to design and 3D print her own fidget spinner using SolidWorks. Debra Wilcox, the owner of a local 3D printing store, also came to speak to the students.

The girls toured two Advanced Manufacturing companies on Wednesday. At Sundyne, they met mechanical engineers and saw a part being made on a 5-axis CNC machine. The tour also provided lessons in the importance of safety from a female member of the local chapter of the American Society for Safety Engineers. At Eldon James, a women-owned plastic injection molding company, they watched plastic parts being molded.  A member of the Colorado chapter of Women in Manufacturing (WIM) of which Janet is also a member, spoke to the girls about careers in manufacturing.

Thursday was spent at CCD’s Advanced Manufacturing Center doing manual machining using mills and lathes to drill a hole in a CNC-machined medallion. Stacey Bibik, president of Focused on Machining, spoke to the girls about careers. For welding, the girls used both simulators and actual welding equipment under faculty supervision. They had the opportunity to meet and interact with manufacturing college students at the AMC. In the afternoon, they toured a glass recycling company, Clear Intentions.

In the morning of the camp’s last day on Friday, the girls worked with faculty to finish their projects and learned how to create a plasma-cut DIY sign in welding. In the afternoon, there was a graduation ceremony in which the girls had the opportunity to share their experiences. Guests included family members, CCD staff, women from the manufacturing community, and the Denver Public School CareerConnect program.

“The camp was a success because more than 25 professional women who are employed in advanced manufacturing companies participated in CCD’s camp, and 16 Community College of Denver staff, students, and faculty in architecture, machining, fabrication welding and engineering graphics helped design projects, presented, and coached girls,” said Janet Colvin, who coordinated the camp. “I can’t say enough about the companies who participated. One of the key goals of the camp was to provide opportunities where girls could visualize themselves in manufacturing careers, and these business partners helped us achieve that goal.”

Janet stressed that one outcome of the camp was the change in the understanding of manufacturing skills and the potential future employment prospects in the Denver region.

The Project DIY team administered a test before and after the camp, which showed what the girls learned. Here are some of the results of the camp:

  • Pre/post test showed increased knowledge of manufacturing careers and educational pathways; 74% of the participants agreed that the camp increased their motivation to pursue a career in Advanced Manufacturing; 78% of the girls indicated that they could explain the basics of how to make metal parts with a machine, compared to 29% pretest.
  • 100% of the campers indicated that they learned new skills; 91% stated that the camp helped them learn more about their career interests; 100% recommended the camp to others.
  • Machining, welding, and the tours were listed among their favorite activities.
  • The post-test results showed that none of the girls thought Advanced Manufacturing was dirty work (compared to 39% in the pre-test).”
  • Two Project DIY attendees started paid internships in manufacturing with Denver Public Schools CareerConnect after the camp.

“As a result of the camp last summer, one girl changed schools to attend a school that taught welding,” said Janet. “Nine girls came back to complete the camp for the second time this summer. We follow up with all of the girls during the school year. We provide opportunities for the girls to participate in our large MFG DAY event and an international Maker Faire conference.”

CCD’s manufacturing programs offer the ability to earn an Associate of Applied Science degree in fabrication welding, machining or engineering graphics, and mechanical design. The college also offers a variety of basic and advanced certificate programs that are stackable —meaning students can earn a certificate and start working right away while continuing on towards more advanced certificates or associate’s degrees in their field.

Janet explained how CCD grew their Advanced Manufacturing Center programs and how they were funded. “We opened the center on July 21, 2015 after receiving a $3.5 million grant from the Department of Labor. Nine community colleges received this grant, called CHAMP. The grant enabled us to set up the center, buy the equipment, and develop the curriculum with the help of the local manufacturing industry. It was a four-year grant, so we have another half year of funding. We are researching other opportunities for continued funding for the center. We are a corporate training center, so we offer training for a fee to local manufacturers.”  Janet said that if anyone wanted more information on ProjectDIY, they could contact her at

I shared with Janet that I have written numerous articles about solving the skills gap and attracting the next generation of manufacturing workers and am familiar with the Manufacturing Institute prediction that “Over the next decade, nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will likely need to be filled and the skills gap is expected to result in 2 million of those jobs going unfilled.” I told her that I certainly hope that CCD will be able to obtain follow up funding for the Advanced Manufacturing Center and be able to continue their summer camps. I believe these types of summer camps are vital for attracting the next generation of manufacturing workers.

I told her that I believe that the manufacturing industry is the foundation of our middle class, and that our country’s national security and prosperity depend in large part on a strong manufacturing industry. This is why I wrote my book, Can American Manufacturing be Saved?  Why We Should and How We Can, and am now working on a sequel titled Rebuild Manufacturing — the Key to American Prosperity, which I hope to have published by the fall.


Mira Costa College’s Technology Career Institute Fills Manufacturers’ Training Needs

Saturday, September 2nd, 2017

For nearly twenty years, the only place to get the training through the community college system to become a machinist was San Diego City College. Now, however, there is a second location for civilians to get training as a machinist in San Diego County at the Technology Career Institute (TCI) of MiraCosta Community College. MiraCosta College is a public California community college serving coastal North San Diego County. The main campus is located in Oceanside, and there is a second campus in Cardiff-by-the-Sea.

The reason I mention training for civilians is that from 1923 – 1993, the Navy had a machinist school at the Naval Training Center, San Diego. NTC ceased providing training at the end of 1993 as a result of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) commission of 1993. The machining training was transferred to the Great Lakes Naval Training Center in Illinois. There is still a machine shop at the North Island Naval Air Station on Coronado Island that offers training for entry-level Navy machinists to become journeymen. There is also the Workshops for Warriors, about which I have written previously, that has been training Veterans in machining and other manufacturing skills since 2011.

Last October, I visited the Technology Career Institute (TCI) during San Diego’s Manufacturing Week (associated with the national MFG Day on October 5th). I met Linda Kurokawa, Director of Community Education & Workforce Development, and finally had the opportunity to interview her in depth last week.

My first question was:  When did TCI start and whose idea was it? Linda said, “The Technology Career Institute officially opened in its current location in Carlsbad in March 2015, and it was actually my idea.” She explained, “I started it because I felt that San Diego North County needed a technical training center to provide low cost and accelerated training. We wanted to get young people and Veterans trained for good paying jobs. For about five years, I had been asked by local manufacturers and the local chapter of the National Tooling & Manufacturing Association (NTMA) to start a machinist program. But, I had no money, no instructors, and no equipment.

I decided to see if there was a way it could be done. I worked with the City of Oceanside and asked if they had an empty building. They did since it was during the long-lasting recession. I talked to leaders in the local industry to see if we could raise the funds to get the equipment. The MiraCosta Foundation helped us get donations to buy some of the equipment. One donor even gave $50,000. I worked with Haas Automation®, Inc., and we got some automated machining centers through an ‘Entrustment’ arrangement.”

Continuing, she said, “When we were in the planning stage for TCI, I was advised to make sure the course met the needs of the manufacturers, so we had manufacturers review our curriculum. We also visited training centers all over the country to learn about best practices. We started our machining program in the spring of 2013 at the Oceanside location. The program was very accelerated ? the students went every day, five days a week, for eight hours a day. The NTMA helped me find our first instructor, a woman who was retiring from the Navy and had taught machining skills on board ship to sailors.”

When I asked how they wound up at the current facility in Carlsbad, she responded, “I realized that with the small facility we had, we could only train a few students at a time. I heard about a grant available through the Department of Labor, and I hired a grant writer. We submitted our proposal and won a $2.75 million grant, which allowed us the funds to buy the equipment we needed to double the size of our machining program and also establish an engineering technician program.

We looked for a larger empty building and found one in the city of Carlsbad. We worked with city officials to get a low rent, as we are entirely funded by student fees. It was a mutually beneficial arrangement. Carlsbad is helping to fill the talent pipeline and helping residents in North County find technical training, and we provide the training in a low cost building.

We moved into our 23,000 sq. ft. building in early 2015 and had the time and space to start night and weekend classes using modules from our daytime accelerated program. We are GI bill approved and funded through Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act funds and state funds, which are only available about five months of the year before the funds are exhausted. Our fees are high per student (about $6,000), so I wanted to find another grant. The Girard Foundation did help out by funding one semester last year.”

I told Linda that I had seen the press release about the MiraCosta College being one of the recipients of the more than $111 million America’s Promise grants that were awarded on November 17, 2016 by the U.S. Department of Labor “to 23 regional workforce partnerships in 28 states to connect more than 21,000 Americans to education and in-demand jobs.”

The press release stated, “Each four-year grant will support tuition-free education and training that prepares participants for jobs in industries that currently utilize the H-1B temporary visa program to meet industry workforce needs. Grantees will use individual assessments to determine the best strategies to successfully move participants into middle- to high-skilled jobs including accelerated training, longer-term intensive training and up skilling current employees to meet the demands of higher skilled jobs.

Grantees will focus their activities on four key priorities:

  • Increasing opportunities for all Americans through tuition-free training for middle-to high-skilled occupations and industries.
  • Expanding employer involvement in the design and delivery of education and training programs.
  • Utilizing evidence-based sector strategies to increase college completion, employability, employment earnings and outcomes of job seekers.
  • Leveraging additional public, private and foundation resources to scale and sustain proven strategies.

Funded through fees paid by employers to bring foreign workers into the U.S. under the H-1B temporary visa program, America’s Promise grants are intended to raise the technical skill levels of American workers and, over time, help businesses reduce their reliance on temporary visa programs.”

Linda said, “I wrote my own grant this time, and we were the only college in California to receive the grant of 6 million over a period of four years. We are six months into the grant, so we still have 3 1/2 years left. We are sharing some monies with Grossmont Cuyamaca College in east San Diego County and Chaffey College in Riverside. The grant funds have allowed us to eliminate tuition fees and reduce administrative fees down to a modest $375. However, the America’s Promise grant is not a long-term solution. ”

She explained, “Our local manufacturing industry is composed of such small companies that there isn’t enough extra money from these companies to be a sponsor for a machining school. However, we do get small donations of money and donations of metal materials used by the students, as well as donations of some equipment.”

I told her I understood because this is the type of company I represent as a manufacturers’ sales rep – companies that are typically under 25 employees, and I even represent two San Diego North County companies that have less than 15 employees. I mentioned that I had read the sector report on Advanced Manufacturing released in November 2015 by the San Diego Workforce Partnership (SDWP). It stated that” 97 percent of all Advanced Manufacturing businesses are businesses with fewer than 50 employees. Small businesses in this sector also account for 36% of all employees and for a third of all generated annual revenue.”

When I asked what is coming up, she said, “We are excited about launching our apprenticeship program for Machining Technician, CNC machine operators, engineering technicians, electronic assembly, and solar PV in the next few months that have been approved by the State of California Apprenticeship Standards. We will do the pre-training at our facility and monitor the students On the Job Training. We will have an Advisory Board, and already have a couple of companies lined up for the apprenticeships. We are also partnering with Able-Disabled Advocacy for a small portion of their $3.2 million grant for apprenticeships from the Department of Labor that they were awarded in November 2015.

As we concluded our discussion, Linda commented, “One of the benefits of having a big training center is that we will be able to make changes amongst our local manufacturers. Our students are being directed to the companies where they will be able to have a decent paying job.  When companies come to us asking why they can’t get our graduates to go to work for them, we have to explain to them it is because they are not paying a living wage. We are helping them realize that they need to pay higher wages to get and keep better employees.”

I responded that I had heard that San Diego ranks in the top 10 (9th) of most expensive places to live according to Inc. magazine, so it is tough to make it when the wages in San Diego are so much lower than cities that are higher up on the list like New York, Boston, and San Francisco. That is why it is important to get the training and/or education needed to be able to get a higher paying job here, and why it is so important for companies to pay competitive wages. The SDWP report identified advanced manufacturing as one of the priority sectors for job growth, so the Technical Career Institute is an important addition to San Diego County’s training infrastructure.