Biobased Manufacturing: Creating Michigan Jobs

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, today said that biobased companies are creating jobs across the country and helping to grow the economy through new innovations in manufacturing. Stabenow's comments came during a Committee hearing that examined how companies are taking advantage of homegrown agriculture - instead of petroleum - to make new products, spurring a new wave in innovative manufacturing that's growing the economy across the country.

Accompanying the ‘Grow It Here, Make It Here' hearing, 35 biobased companies and organizations from 25 states (representing half of the country) had their work on display in the Kennedy Caucus Room and provided firsthand insights into how important biobased manufacturing has been in growing their manufacturing operations. Four companies from Michigan, Ford Motor Company, Lear Corporation, KTM Industries, and Fabri-Kal attended the event to showcase their innovative biobased manufactured products.

"Biobased manufacturing is the next jobs revolution in our country, and one that Michigan is ready to lead," said Chairwoman Stabenow. "More than 3,000 companies in the United States - and 80 in Michigan - either manufacture or distribute biobased products. This brings together Michigan's top two industries - manufacturing and agriculture - and creates new opportunities for companies and farmers to partner to continue growing an essential crop right here at home: manufacturing jobs."

Chairwoman Stabenow said the Farm Bill is a jobs bill, and she emphasized that the Committee recognized early on the value of connecting agriculture with manufacturing when writing the bill, which was signed into law in February. The bill included critical biobased initiatives to help innovators leverage new resources to grow their manufacturing businesses, creating new jobs by harnessing the potential of American grown agriculture crops.

"Earlier this year, we saw the work that began at this table make its way to the President's desk. In that bill, we created new opportunities to support biobased manufacturing so innovators in both rural and urban America could continue growing their businesses, and creating manufacturing jobs. We recognized the connection between manufacturing and agriculture, and understood early on its potential for growing the economy."

"I have seen it firsthand, from our automakers in Michigan," Chairwoman Stabenow said. "Agricultural products are being used in nearly every part of automotive production: from seats to interior panels, armrests to sunshades, soy wire coatings, carpets, and structural foam. ... As I always say, in Michigan we both grow things and make things. Agriculture and manufacturing are at the heart of our economy - they are the foundation of the middle class."

Following the hearing, Members of the Committee and the public went to the Kennedy Caucus Room to see firsthand some of the innovative products that are helping to fuel the biobased manufacturing boom. Representatives from 35 companies and organizations (representing 25 states) were on hand with their products to showcase the innovative work being done in biobased manufacturing. A full list of those companies can be accessed here.

Witnesses who testified before the Committee at the hearing represented companies that have been leading the charge in biobased manufacturing including Mr. Scott Vitters, General Manager, PlantBottle Innovation Platform, The Coca-Cola Company, Atlanta, GA; Mr. Ashford A. Galbreath, Director, Advanced Materials and Comfort Engineering, Research and Development, Lear Corporation, Southfield, MI; Mr. Kurtis Miller, BU President, Cargill Industrial Specialties, Cargill, Inc., Hopkins, MN; Mr. Adam Monroe, President, Americas, Novozymes North America Inc., Franklinton, NC; and, Mr. J.D. Hankins II, Vice President, Hankins, Inc., Ripley, MS.