The Center for Labor & Community Research (CLCR) is a Chicago-based 501(c)(3) non-profit working to rediscover, redefine, and rebuild advanced manufacturing in the knowledge economy. CLCR's vision is articulated in the book Building a Bridge to the High Road by executive director Dan Swinney (available in PDF and HTML).
Their approach is anchored in the reality of America's communities, and borrows as appropriate from best international practice in proposing comprehensive and practical solutions such as the experience of the Mondragon Cooperative Corporation in the Basque region in Spain; private and public partnerships in the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy; and the educational programs in Germany, Denmark, and other countries.
In short, CLCR believes that High Road advanced manufacturing can build a socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable and restorative society. The environmental, economic, and social components are like three legs on a stool. Each is essential. Only with all three legs of sustainability can our society support the weight of necessary change. A commitment to sustainable development is essential to supporting the competitive advantage we need in advanced manufacturing.
When people's health improves, when they are well paid and secure, and when they are treated fairly, their creative potential is unstoppable. That's what development in Chicago -- and across the world -- is all about.
CLCR's mission is to rediscover, reinvent, and rebuild advanced manufacturing in the knowledge economy. Advanced manufacturing is the development and production of high-tech, complex products. An economy based on advanced manufacturing holds the greatest potential to create sustainable, long-term economic growth; rebuild the American middle class; and solve the global environmental crisis.
Advanced manufacturing is the single most important sector in our economy.
- Manufacturing creates the highest possible fusion of public and private interests, providing high-paying jobs to strengthen our middle class; generating concrete wealth for investors and owners; and driving U.S. competitiveness at the cutting edge of global innovation.
- Manufacturing strong, vibrant industry that generates nearly 12% of our national GDP and employs nearly 12 million Americans. By itself, U.S. manufacturing would represent the 9th largest economy in the world.
- Growth in manufacturing spills over to other sectors, with every new manufacturing job creating three more jobs in related industries like retail and distribution. Manufacturing accounts for 70% of all American research and development, as well as half of all exports from the United States.
- Leadership in the emerging industries of the future -- renewable energy, nanotechnology, biotechnology-- requires the advanced technologies, processes and capabilities necessary to drive innovation. Expanding advanced manufacturing is the surest way to cement our position in these areas.
- Lasting solutions to the global environmental crisis can only emerge from advanced manufacturing. Regulation and litigation are not enough. We must create new products, processes, and technologies to restore and maintain the health of our planet.
- Advanced manufacturing careers are individually transformative, representing a shift away from toiling, repetitive, and unfulfilling work and toward careers that involve teamwork, creativity, and ample opportunities for career advancement.
In 2005, CLCR formed the Chicago Manufacturing Renaissance Council in partnership with the City of Chicago, the Chicago Federation of Labor, and the Illinois Manufacturers' Association. The Renaissance Council is a dynamic coalition of business, labor, government, and community leaders working to make Chicago the global leader in advanced manufacturing.
Our signature initiative, the Renaissance Council embodies CLCR's commitment to building partnerships with stakeholders at all levels of society. The Renaissance Council has its own range of programs, including: assisting community colleges in upgrading their programs; promoting opportunities for local manufacturers to enter the wind turbine supply chain; and changing the image of manufacturing.
Austin Polytechnical Academy is a small engineering- and manufacturing-focused public high school on Chicago's West Side with approximately 400 students. Established in 2007 by the Chicago Manufacturing Renaissance Council, Austin Polytech partners with over 65 small and mid-size manufacturing companies from the Chicago area to prepare students for college and careers in all aspects of advanced manufacturing.
APA partners help teach students about manufacturing through facility tours, guest lectures, job shadowing, and paid internships. This innovative school boasts a state of the art, NIMS-accredited Manufacturing Technology Center, made possible by over $150,000 in private investment. Austin Polytech is the centerpiece of CLCR's development vision for Austin.
Chicago's West Side community of Austin was once a vibrant industrial center, until factory closings eliminated 15,000 jobs and unemployment skyrocketed to 21%. There are over 27,000 manufacturing jobs in nearby communities, but without access to the necessary training, Austin residents can't find work in in the industry.
The Austin Manufacturing Training Center is an important component of CLCR's development vision for Austin. Beginning in 2011, the AMTC will use Austin Polytech's Manufacturing Technology Center for adult training programs during evenings, weekends, and summers. Trainees will earn nationally recognized certifications from the National Institute for Metalworking Skills.