AUSTIN, Texas—The state of Texas needs a secretary of manufacturing to help the state’s manufacturing sector regain previous growth rates, according to a business professor at The University of Texas at Austin.
The state lost 177,000 manufacturing jobs between 2000 and 2004 after the sector flourished in the 1990s.
A secretary of manufacturing would fill three vital roles, says Dr. John Sibley Butler, who holds the Gale Chair in Entrepreneurship and Small Business and the Herb Kelleher Chair in Entrepreneurship at the McCombs School of Business and is director of the university’s IC2 Institute.
"In 1907, the Texas Legislature responded to the needs of Texas farmers by establishing the Department of Agriculture to better coordinate agricultural policy and services," Butler says. "Now, 100 years later, it is time for a similar response on behalf of Texas manufacturers."
The secretary would be an advocate for Texas manufacturers, a catalyst for supporting innovation in manufacturing and a coordinator to bring business, education and government leaders together to address critical issues.
Butler lays out his vision in a white paper he will deliver at a Feb. 22 conference, Texas: The State of Manufacturing.
Keynote speakers are Texas Secretary of State Roger Williams; Al Frink, former assistant secretary for manufacturing and service in the U.S. Department of Commerce; and William Gruben, vice president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
The conference features panel discussions on manufacturing and work force issues and on manufacturing, innovation and competitiveness.
Challenges facing the state’s manufacturers include integrating new technologies, finding better educated workers, increasing competition nationally and globally, increasing costs of transportation and energy, and complying with government regulations.
"The state’s ability to compete globally is directly related to its ability to coordinate efforts from public and private organizations to yield productive collaborations for the benefit of Texas business," Butler says. "A secretary of manufacturing can accomplish this task."
NEWS MEDIA: The conference Texas: The State of Manufacturing is from 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 22, 2007, at The University of Texas at Austin Alumni Center, 2110 San Jacinto Blvd. Attendance is at capacity; news media are welcomed to attend.
For more information contact: Tim Green, Office of the Vice President for Research, 512-475-6596.