Advanced energy manufacturers face several barriers to entry in the market, including the high costs of machines and materials. State policymakers can remove obstacles and make their state a leader in composite manufacturing by initiating a Factory Retooling for Advanced Energy Manufacturing program. This program would encourage in-state manufacturing of advanced energy products through a revolving loan fund for factory retooling. States can model their factory retooling initiative after successful programs in Wisconsin.
Wisconsin established the Clean Energy Manufacturing Revolving Loan Fund (CERLF) in 2009 to provide up to $1 million of low-interest financing to private companies investing in clean energy-related projects. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and the Wisconsin Public Service Commission jointly manage CERLF. The revolving loan fund received funding through the American Recovery Act and now boasts $38 million of working capital and equipment. Gearbox, a Wisconsin-based wind turbine component manufacturer, utilized CERLF funding to expand and grow its advanced energy operations.
Manufacturers could use loans to purchase machinery and equipment, upgrade or build facilities, or use as initial operating capital. To receive a loan, firms could also be required to meet metrics such as energy efficiency benchmarks or a minimum number of jobs created. Implementing a factory retooling program will send a signal that states are serious about cultivating their manufacturing industry and creating good-paying jobs for state residents.