(Washington, DC) – Today, the House Committee on Science and Technology Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN) introduced HR 5116, America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010.
“The recent economic crisis has reminded us of the importance of our economic competitiveness. Investments in science, innovation, and education will help ensure that the U.S. maintains our scientific and economic leadership long into the future. I also believe that investing in research and development will add jobs to our communities,” said Gordon. “I expect we’ll have some changes to this bill between now and the Full Committee markup next week to incorporate good ideas that came up recently at the Subcommittee level, and I look forward to more constructive conversation with our Members on both sides of the aisle as we move through the process. I’m pleased we’re still on track to get the legislation through the House before the Memorial Day district work period.”
HR 5116 builds upon many of the initiatives from the 2007 America COMPETES Act while also maintaining and strengthening provisions where necessary. In addition to the legislative language that passed the three Subcommittees of jurisdiction, the bill includes innovative technology federal loan guarantees for small- and medium-sized manufacturers.
“We heard in hearings that small- and medium-sized manufacturers are having trouble accessing the capital to make the updates they need to become more efficient,” said Gordon. “These guarantees will help our manufacturers secure the loans they need to stay competitive in the long run. This is building on the support for our manufacturers we’ve already passed at the Subcommittee level, including research into transformative advances in manufacturing and reauthorization of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership program, which helps tens of thousands of small- and medium-sized manufacturers to increase productivityand improve their overall economic competitiveness. “
The bill will also establish the creation of regional innovation clusters, which are regional collections of businesses and organization in the same, similar or complementary fields with open channels of communication between them.
“Clusters can strengthen or revive a region’s economy and can advance the work being done in their field by bringing the leaders together to share ideas and build off of one another,” said Gordon. “We want to empower regions’ efforts to attract businesses, but these efforts will be more successful if the drive comes from the state and local level. To that end, successful applicants will have to demonstrate that they get buy-in from the private sector and local government; that they can meet a fifty-fifty cost share, and that they will be economically viable after the federal government’s investment.”
In addition to grants to support the creation of clusters, the bill directs the Department of Commerce to conduct research on best practices and to create metrics and measurements that will help determine if the programs are having the intended result.
“Making the best practices available to everyone will extend the benefits of the program beyond the grant winners. We also want to help all regions learn from the successes of others, so they’re not spending time and money re-learning the same lessons,” said Gordon. “It’s another way to help make federal dollars go farther and be spent more efficiently.”
The bill addresses interagency coordination programs through the Office of Science and Technology Policy, including the National Nanotechnology Initiative(NNI) and the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) language passed the House.
The bill expands support of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, including language coordinating STEM education activities that take place across the federal government, which passed the House as H.R. 1709, and ensuring a vision and strategy for STEM education at DOE.
For more information on the Committee’s work on COMPETES, please visit our website.