Gillibrand signs on to build-it-here bill

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is backing a bill that would boost U.S. manufacturing startups.

New federal legislation aims to keep high-pay, high-skill manufacturing jobs in the United States by brushing up a 50-year-old small-business law.

Introduced by New Jersey Democrat Corey Booker and cosponsored by a quartet of U.S. senators including Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), the Scale-Up Manufacturing Investment Company Act of 2015 would help fund entrepreneurs and small businesses looking to commercialize or otherwise advance their manufacturing operations.

The idea, according to Gillibrand, who discussed the proposed legislation during a visit to the Long Island Forum for Technology’s composite center in Plainview, is to “create more jobs and grow our economy” by slowing the migration of manufacturing jobs to foreign shores.

“We need to give small businesses the tools they need to turn their innovative ideas into successful business opportunities and expand their manufacturing operations here at home,” Gillibrand said.

The stakes are high. According to the language of the SUMIC Act bill, U.S. manufacturers support over 17.6 million jobs and account for 12 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product.

Noting “access is capital is essential to growth and innovation in the manufacturing sector,” Bill S.1934 – an amendment to the Small Business Investment Act of 1958 – creates a mechanism for private investors to quickly leverage government funds for emerging manufacturers. Modeled on an existing SBA program, the SUMIC Act would both promote small firms that have difficulty demonstrating the viability of their technology at a commercial scale and help participating investment firms raise capital for those businesses.

The proposed law, which is cosponsored by senators from Washington, Delaware and Michigan, is supported by a number of professional organizations, including MIT, the Small Business Investor Alliance and the National Venture Capital Association, according to Booker’s office.

Booker called small businesses “a tremendous engine for innovation and job growth.”

“Small manufacturing firms often struggle to find the capital to finance expansion plans and implement new technologies that can help their businesses grow,” Booker said in a statement. “While we are falling short, our competitors are investing in American home-grown advanced manufacturing firms, and in many cases moving their high-quality jobs and operations overseas.”

The bill has been assigned to a congressional committee that will decide whether to move it along in the Senate or the U.S. House of Representatives.