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Save American technology from the same fate as manufacturing

Entrepreneur Maurice Womack, of Whitehall, launched Wōkanda, an online technology-learning ecosystem for the Black community, on Feb. 1.

As a Midwest native, my passion to protect America’s technology edge is rooted in my front row seat to the lasting damage caused to our country’s manufacturing sector by short-sighted policy decisions.

In my hometown of Adrian, Michigan, in the 1980s, a graduating high school senior could find steady employment at one of many local manufacturing companies, allowing them to earn a solid middle class living and save enough to put their kids through college. 

Doug Kelly is chief executive officer of the American Edge Project.

But damaging policies passed by politicians in Washington, D.C., devastated the U.S.  manufacturing base. In fact, from 2001-2019, the United States lost 20% of its manufacturing jobs and my home county experienced a whopping 43% drop during that same period. These aren’t just numbers – these were my neighbors.

As manufacturing jobs and factories closed down, many communities spiraled into despair and young people fled their hometowns in search of greater opportunity. Additionally, these policies helped ship overseas much of our critical supply chain, leaving our nation incredibly vulnerable during times of crisis, as the pandemic exposed.