Well, the NAM Board Meeting kicked off tonight with a dinner for our Small and Medium Manufacturers. They are a great bunch, entrepreneurs and innovators all, who remind you just by being in their company of why to be around manufacturing is to be part of something special. These folks drive the economy, no doubt about it. They make car crushers, bricks, electronics, copper, parts for the F-18, plastics. One makes the world’s only lighted rain gauge and another makes the mesh for devices that trap homarus americanus, which most all of us enjoy. They collectively employ millions of people,provide health insurance to millions of employees and their families, pay hundreds of millions in taxes and through those taxes pay for teachers, EMT’s, roads, libraries, parks and everything else. In other words, try to make it without us.
So anyway, they all gather and Washington theory mixes instantly with outside-the-Beltway reality. To the question of “How’s business?”, comes a similar answer from many of them: business is OK, but energy costs are killing them. One manufacturer in North Carolina has had his supply of natural gas interrupted, a needed commodity in the manufacturing process. Might have it back by Wednesday, not sure. Another has seen the price of natural gas (ours is the highest in the world, remember) increase fourfold in the last three years, a pretty typical scenario.
Still, the folks in the room really do soldier on. It’s what manufacturers do. They suck it up, innovate, cut costs and compete. But five minutes with the best manufacturers in the world reveals that we need to address the supply side of natural gas and energy, as demand will only rise.
More reports from the NAM Board meeting tomorrow.
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