CRANSTON, R.I. — The focus was on the current state of — and future outlook for — American manufacturing at the second annual John White Jr. Forum on Public Policy event held at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. In addition to John Hazen White Jr., president and CEO of Taco, Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., participated.

Hosted by Brookings’ Governance Studies, and held in the Institute’s Falk Auditorium, Taco noted that the discussion on manufacturing filled the room to capacity with journalists, think tank and association professionals, academics, business representatives, and students.

The forum, entitled “Innovating American Manufacturing: New Policies for a Stronger Economic Future,” was comprised of three panel discussion sessions, each an hour long, that dealt with a range of subjects: today’s advanced manufacturing, the role of manufacturing in the U.S. economy, needed job skills for today’s manufacturing, and the importance of workplace education. A question and answer period completed each session.

Panelists included representatives from Pfizer and Alcoa, the Congressional Research Service, IDA Science & Technology Policy Institute and the Brookings Institute. Moderators included Darrell West, vice president and director, Brookings’ Governance Studies, Jim Tankersley, economic policy correspondent of The Washington Post, and Sophie Quinton, staff reporter of the National Journal.

Speaking of the importance of his employees to Taco, White said “People are the greatest asset a company like mine has. It’s not machinery or equipment, it’s people.” Even the most advanced state-of-the-art machinery, he said, is virtually obsolete soon after it’s installed because there’s something even newer available, but people are an “asset that’s never obsolete.”

Cicilline spoke of efforts in Congress to advance American manufacturing through the Made in America Act and to support increased funding for training and workplace education. He emphasized how hard it currently is to get bipartisan support for even the smallest or least political of measures in today’s hyper-partisan House of Representatives.

Taco Inc., headquartered in Cranston, R.I., is a leading manufacturer of heating and cooling equipment, systems, and accessories for use in hydronic-based applications. For more information, visit

Publication date: 7/29/2013

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