Emily C. Walsh, Capital Institute
Non-Partisan Think Tank Recasts the Story
of American Manufacturing in its First eBook
Greenwich, CT (November 28, 2012) – Capital Institute, a non-partisan, transdisciplinary collaborative space working to transform finance to serve a more just, regenerative, and sustainable economic system, today published the fourth field study of its Field Guide to Investing in a Regenerative Economy initiative. Although there is much public discussion about how to reduce the stubbornly high rate of unemployment in America, we seldom hear about the 600,000 high quality manufacturing jobs going unfilled due to an inadequate pipeline of skilled workers. There has been even less attention paid to the urgent need to mobilize the manufacturing sector, in its current, advanced evolution, to restore damaged societal and biophysical systems. The new field study addresses these very issues, and in particular, the great strides being made to address them by an innovative public-private partnership, the Manufacturing Renaissance initiative. Long before American manufacturing’s struggles became part of the national dialogue, the organization behind the Manufacturing Renaissance—The Center for Labor and Community Research (CLCR)—was one of the first to point out its systemic breakdowns—beginning with short-term reductionist thinking in our financial sector.
To create a more immersive experience for readers, Capital Institute has published the latest field study, entitled “The Next (Regenerative) Industrial Age: The Story of the National Manufacturing Renaissance Campaign,” as a digitally enhanced iBook for the iPad. The study is also available on Vook, a web-based platform. Nook and Kindle versions will be released soon as well.
About the Field Guide Initiative
Despite its many achievements, our global economy operates in denial of the earth’s finite biophysical capacities. It is at the same time delivering an ever-widening wealth gap. With our real economy in a state of such acute fragility, Capital Institute believes society must quickly redirect the financial system to fund transformative business models that together begin to define the regenerative economy we need. The Field Guide is a series of interconnected stories that bring to life what a regenerative economy might look like—how financial capital can be a restorative rather than a destructive agent as it supports place-based enterprises and practices that empower individuals, and heal the ecosystems and regional communities in which they operate.
About the New Study
Capital Institute’s new field study not only examines the decline of manufacturing in America, but also its inspiring resurgence in Chicago. Beginning in the 1980s, the sector was hit with a wave of plant closings around the country; Chicago alone lost 3,000 of its 7,000 factories. The industry’s reputation also went into decline. A litany of reasons was to blame for the growing view that work in manufacturing was dirty, dangerous, and dead-ended.
In 1982, after a decade’s worth of work on the factory floor, Dan Swinney, a labor activist with a historian’s perspective, founded CLCR in Chicago. CLCR’s research illuminated a number of surprising facts, among them that global competition was just one factor contributing to the decline of American manufacturing. What CLCR uncovered, beyond the obvious globalization pressures, were healthy, small- to medium-sized private companies that had failed to effectively plan for either management or ownership succession, and as a result had no alternative but to sell out to Wall Street LBO engineers and industrial consolidators who had no commitment to the long-term stewardship of these businesses. CLCR also found that small, private manufacturers were particularly burdened by public education’s failure to deliver graduates with the necessary skills to handle the industry’s increasingly complex processes, further compounding the management succession challenges. The organization’s mission was to help regenerate the sector and the middle class whose livelihood depended on it. CLCR also saw great promise in the birth of advanced manufacturing: as the solution to our environmental crises, and the means to promote more sustainable practices throughout the economy.
In 2005, Swinney and CLCR shepherded the Chicago Manufacturing Renaissance Council (MRC) into being. Today, Chicago MRC operates the globally recognized Austin Polytechnical Academy. The Academy is helping build a regenerative local economy by creating a viable workforce and hundreds of career opportunities for inner city high school graduates. As we published our eBook, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that the city will invest $1.25 million in advanced manufacturing education programs led by the Manufacturing Renaissance initiative and its managing partner, the Center for Labor and Community Research. MRC’s next challenge will be national-level scaling up.
“The Chicago Manufacturing Renaissance Council challenges our conventional wisdom that the decline of manufacturing in the U.S. is inevitable. On the contrary, we have seen that the challenges facing this vital, wealth-generating sector of the economy are surmountable. A manufacturing renaissance is possible with a public-private partnership approach to education and innovation, along with a recognition that business ownership must be accompanied by a commitment to long-term stewardship in a viable capitalist system,” said John Fullerton, founder and president of Capital Institute.
“I think the issue of advanced manufacturing in our society is the most important issue of this decade. Because in that issue lies our ability to actually solve the corresponding social problems—whether it’s education, the economy, poverty, or the environment,” said Dan Swinney, founder and executive director of the Center for Labor and Community Research.
For more information or to download the new Field Guide study’s iBook, please visit https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/next-regenerative-industrial/id576887375?mt=11. Interested parties must have the latest versions of both Apple iOS and iBooks. To download all other versions of the study, please visit http://www.capitalinstitute.org/capital-lab/next-regenerative-industrial-age-story-manufacturing-renaissance-campaign.
About Capital Institute
The Capital Institute is a non-partisan, transdisciplinary Collaborative Space, founded in 2009 by former JPMorgan Managing Director John Fullerton. Its mission is to explore and effect economic transition to a more just, regenerative, and sustainable way of living on this earth through the transformation of finance. For more information, visit www.capitalinstitute.org.