By Tom Croft
Source: Heartland Capital Strategies

The Heartland Network has been advocating— thru words and deeds — for a sustainable industrial policy since our inception over a quarter century ago. Heartland has been advising and pushing the Biden Administration and Congress for nearly two years now to bridge the gap between where we are and a truly sustainable productive economy strategy. We’re getting close!

Heartland was born in 1995 to rebuild America by sustainably investing workers’ capital in a way that values and supports workers. In words – including legislative testimony, books, chapters, and reports – and deeds – powered by responsible investment aviators who are the most accomplished in their fields – we envisioned a more sustainable, prosperous future for working families and our children.

In the past year, many of our long-fought measures came to fruition, and together (A huge thank you to all our supporters!), we helped win major legislative victories. America has indeed begun to realize the importance of a sustainable industrial policy – saving and re-tooling critical factories and committing to a productive economy, which includes the responsible stewardship of our retirement and anchor institutional assets.

The receipts for our path-setting work? You can go back to the Industrial Renaissance Conference of 1989, the first Heartland book in 2001 (the first of four), the Call-to-Action Coalition of 2010, the Century Foundation/Heartland Road Shows and manufacturing policy papers, and, finally, the Marshall Plan for Middle America (MP4MA) to see our handiwork. These contributed to the breakthroughs we see today.

Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill (BIL) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the largest climate energy bill in history, as well as the CHIPs Act and other measures, there’s trillions of dollars available from the federal government for industries and communities long left-behind. Just in the past year, our communities have witnessed an onrush of manufacturing, energy, and infrastructural economic opportunities, spurred by abrupt changes in the economy and climate – not to mention two years of COVID-19 pandemic relief.

Long overdue investments in infrastructure, in manufacturing innovation, and in climate infrastructure — including modernizing the grid—coupled with Buy America, Build America, prevailing wage, and qualified apprenticeship requirements—can bolster our nation’s manufacturing sector across the board. Biden’s priority on infrastructure can be seen in his promise to rebuild the Fern Hollow Bridge when he visited it on the day of its collapse. Biden was recently back to town to applaud how much the essential bridge project is ahead of schedule, due to the BIL

Yet often businesses and communities are not prepared to seize these opportunities. The Heartland Network and allies are building new bridges to the Administration that will connect the country, emphasizing projects that will re-employ dislocated and disadvantaged workers and young people looking for a pipeline into productive, responsible careers.