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(NECN) - "Manufacturing is in Connecticut's DNA," said U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal. "It's what we do and we can be a powerhouse for the nation."
Sen. Blumenthal knows this because he and U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy sent out a survey last year answered by 150 manufacturers in Connecticut.
Manufacturers responded to the survey, saying from government they need a more competitive tax rate, less regulation and more investment in infrastructure, such as transportation. But, on the whole, their companies are healthy and they are optimistic.
Which is, as many are quick to point out, the opposite of what has been heard for years, which has been if one wishes to make a product, it should be sent to China to be produced for much cheaper there. However, this has become less and less true in part because of places in the U.S. where they train workers to become highly skilled manufacturing employees.
Skilled labor is one factor the U.S. has over China - but there is more, including what used to be China's big selling point: the cost of labor.
"In certain parts of China, the cost of labor is increasing at double-digit rates," said Frank Johnson of the Manufacturer's Alliance of Connecticut. "Sometimes 18-to-20 percent a year, as compared to the U.S., where the total cost of labor is rising about 4 percent a year. In addition to that fuel has increased the cost of shipping, and manufacturers have an issue with being able to get the product here in a timely way."
And quality control in the U.S. is much better in part because of the skilled workforce. Milton Blake is training to be a computer numerical control or CNC operator.
"I started looking on the internet and there are so many jobs for CNC machinists," said Blake. "And you figure this education, it travels. You can go anywhere you want. Anywhere in the world. Anywhere in the world."
His teachers and the manufacturers are hoping he stays here in Connecticut.