Strengthening the global competitiveness of U.S. manufacturing

Chandra Brown, deputy assistant secretary for manufacturing for the U.S. Department of Commerce, spoke about the U.S. manufacturing sector and how the U.S. government is trying to strengthen its global presence, at the 2014 Women in Manufacturing (WiM) Summit. Exports are good for manufacturers, and companies with women on the board of directors have stronger financials.

By Anisa Samarxhiu September 30, 2014

Exports are good for the manufacturing business, and companies with women on the board of directors have a stronger bottom line, according to Chandra Brown, the deputy assistant secretary for manufacturing for the U.S. Department of Commerce. Brown spends a lot of time traveling and advocating the strength of manufacturing. She has firsthand experience on what manufacturing companies need to do to thrive. Before joining the government, she served as vice president and CEO of United Streetcar, a subsidiary of Oregon Iron Works.

She started her keynote speech at the Women in Manufacturing (WiM) Summit in Schaumburg, Ill., with an important statistic: during the economic downturn the companies that exported goods grew by 7%, those who did not export diminished by 5%. Brown emphasized that the U.S. has the resources to help advocate for American manufacturing companies. Whether it is on-site help to manufacturing businesses that want to go into the international arena or advisory councils such as the National Manufacturing Council, the resources for success exist. One just has to look for them.

As Brown was at a summit for women in manufacturing, she presented another statistic: Fortune 500 companies that have women in their board of directors are more likely to have better corporate responsibility and a better bottom line. However, there aren’t enough women in the manufacturing industry or on these executive boards. Although women make up half of the work force, only 24% of the manufacturing industry is made up of women and less than 5% are on the board of directors. Women are needed, she said, throughout the pipeline from the manufacturing floor to the leadership positions.

Brown concluded her address with this message: "We must change the perception of manufacturing to the general audience. We can do that by mentoring young people and get them interested in manufacturing, creating a more flexible workspace and incorporating more diversity in the workplace."

– Anisa Samarxhiu, digital project manager, CFE Media,

– See related stories from the Women in Manufacturing (WiM) Summit below.