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Home / Focus / Manufacturing & Technology Nov. 2008 / Manufacturing a strong economy

Manufacturing a strong economy

Recently there have been some troubling headlines about the United States’ manufacturing sector. Company executives have cited “global competitiveness” as a reason for moving hundreds of jobs out of the state and country. That is concerning, given the impact of manufacturing on our economy. In Arizona, manufacturing provides some of our highest paying jobs. 
As we prepare to usher in a new presidential administration, we should evaluate which policies to embrace and which to avoid so we can grow our economy out of the current slump. Enabling our manufacturing sector to succeed will play an important role in that recovery process.
Let’s avoid:
n Card-check legislation: This takes away workers’ rights to a secret ballot when voting to authorize union representation. Bruce Josten from the United States Chamber calls card check “just the tip of the spear.” He says, “behind it is a host of other proposals that would expand union power, mandate costly new benefits, and shackle workplaces with new regulatory regimes. Collectively, this agenda would turn back the clock on our economy and blunt America’s competitive edge.”
n Higher corporate taxes: Other countries (and some unlikely ones at that) are catching onto the fact that keeping taxes low creates a better environment for all businesses. Let’s avoid higher taxes that will make the U.S. a less attractive location for manufacturers.
n Cap-and-trade program without international participation: If we don’t work globally on a system to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions, we push more manufacturing overseas. Including international partners in any type of cap-and-trade system will encourage manufacturers to keep jobs in the U.S.
Let’s embrace:
n Free trade: We should seek new free trade agreements, as well as enforce ones already in existence. This removes limitations, allowing manufacturers to sell their goods all over the world without penalty.
n Improved infrastructure: This allows manufacturers to easily transport their goods to market — something vital to their ability to compete and succeed.
n Immigration reform that welcomes the best and brightest: This means improvements to our existing visa system so we welcome top-notch workers from all over the world. Raising caps on the number of visas will allow the best workers to enter positions here in the U.S. and make the U.S. more competitive.  
The National Association of Manufacturers reports that manufacturing multiplies every dollar spent into an additional $1.37 in economic activity, greater than other sectors. For that reason, we should work to encourage the health and vitality of U.S. manufacturing.
We need its economic output now more than ever.  
— Mark Dobbins is chairman of the Arizona Manufacturers Council and vice chair of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

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