Today, Representative Sharice Davids toured local biomanufacturer Ronawk, continuing her efforts to meet with local businesses and promote investment in supply chains, innovation, and American manufacturing. Ronawk's unique technology helps scientists advance cutting-edge research, such as the COVID-19 vaccine, and their use of domestic materials has helped them navigate ongoing supply chain issues. Davids joined leaders from Ronawk and Kansas Manufacturing Solutions (KMS) after the tour to discuss how to address inflation and help American industry compete on a level playing field against countries like China.
According to a Joint Economic Committee report, the U.S. has lost over a quarter of its manufacturing jobs since 2000, and increased competition from China cost approximately 985,000 American manufacturing jobs between 1991 and 2011. Davids voted for the America COMPETES Act to strengthen domestic innovation and advanced technologies via the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program, which helps fund KMS' work to provide affordable support services to more than 2,700 manufacturers in Kansas. Davids' amendment also passed the House earlier this month, ensuring that small and mid-sized manufacturers like Ronawk are given opportunities to participate in federal supply chain upgrades.
"If we want to fix our supply chain, address rising prices, and stay competitive against countries like China, we should be investing in our talent and capacity here at home. Ronawk is a great example of the cutting-edge manufacturing we have right here in the Third District," said Davids. "I voted to boost American manufacturing and the type of on-the-job training that Ronawk and Kansas Manufacturing Solutions support--and introduced an amendment to make sure that our small businesses aren't left out."
"As the Kansas Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), we work shoulder to shoulder with small to mid-sized companies to help them reduce costs, improve efficiencies, and develop the next generation of workforce, including through our new supply chain database program, Connex Kansas," said Tiffany Stovall, President and CEO of Kansas Manufacturing Solutions. "The America COMPETES Act is a really important initiative for U.S. manufacturing, and particularly for Kansas manufacturing. I'm glad that the House of Representatives and Rep. Davids have passed the national supply chain database as a part of that."
"In science, and in particular cell culture, there are many hurdles in the supply chain that impact the speed, cost, and results. The opportunities the America COMPETES Act creates will help Ronawk as a manufacturer to supply customers in and outside of the US with a premium cell culture development technology. Additionally, it will help scientists all over the world accelerate research and potentially lower the cost of production for life science and pharmaceutical companies across the globe," said Dr. A.J. Mellott, CEO and Co-Founder of Ronawk.
The America COMPETES Act also invests in on-the-job training, research and technological development, and other educational programs to fill the training gap and ensure our workforce is globally competitive. Ronawk currently partners with local school districts on a high school internship program and has plans to build a skilled technical training facility here in the Kansas City area.
"It is important to encourage and train the next generation of young midwestern scientists. At Ronawk, we understand this, and that is why we are investing our own resources to provide opportunities for the talented individuals in the area that want to go into science. We hope to help create new jobs in manufacturing and research and development for the next-generation Kansans to help benefit the region and our future property, in keeping with our state's motto," said Heather Decker, CTO and Co-Founder of Ronawk.
Davids continues her focus on lowering costs and fixing our supply chains. Last week, she met with the General Motors Fairfax plant manager and local Autoworkers Union, and she recently visited local medical device suppliers who rely on semiconductor "chips" and have been struggling to serve patients amid the ongoing shortage. The America COMPETES Act includes $52 billion to support domestic production of chips, which will reduce inflation and promote American manufacturing of critical materials.
The America COMPETES Act has a bipartisan companion in the Senate and support from the National Association of Manufacturers and the AFL-CIO. A fact sheet on the America COMPETES Act is available here from the Joint Economic Committee, of which Davids is a member.