Senator Kirsten Gillibrand was in Monroe County to pitch her Made in America Manufacturing Act. It's aimed at boosting advanced manufacturing sectors and close America's skills gap.
Senator Gillibrand used Rochester Precision Optics in Henrietta as a backdrop to pitch her Made in America Bill.
The firm works closely with government and private entities in the manufacturing of high end optics.
After losing nearly 19,000 manufacturing jobs in the Finger Lakes region, Gillibrand says high tech and computer manufacturing has increased nearly 17 percent. She says her bill will help these firms by making $20 million in funding available to create a revolving loan fund providing manufacturers with low interest loans.
She says one of the biggest challenges manufacturers face is access to capital.
"This revolving loan fund would go a long way to giving existing manufacturers the funds they need to develop, to reinvest in their businesses, to upgrade their manufacturing strategies and to be available to use the most cutting edge technology," said Gillibrand, (D).
Gillibrand's bill calls for local governments to team with private sector firms and community colleges to prepare a workforce for high tech manufacturing jobs.
MCC is trying to build a pipeline to train people to fill those jobs. College leaders say they have the programs but not enough students going through them.
"One of the elements of this initiative is to provide funding for new cirriculum. That piggybacks very well with a grant that we've received from the federal government, a $14.6 million grant we're managing for SUNY that does that as well," said Todd Oldham, Monroe Community College.
About 2,500 new manufacturing jobs have been added throughout the Rochester region over the past five years. Those firms that added jobs say they all have a common theme.
"Companies know they need to invest in order in order to grow and that sometimes is challenging with lack of access to capital. They know they need to find and train the right workforce and sometimes that's been a challenge. They also know they need assistance in identifying some new market opportunities or some partnership opportunities or exporting opportunities," said Jim Senall, High Tech Rochester.
Local manufacturers believe Gillibrand's bill will help meet all those need and create more high tech manufacturing opportunities.