The NAM has been working on infrastructure issues for some time now, recognizing that limited capacity and uncertain reliability can seriously hinder economic growth. Speaking last October at the Minnesota Manufacturing Summit, NAM President John Engler called for bipartisan cooperation to address the country’s transportation and shipping needs.
The competitive reasons are obvious. “USA Today” recently reported on China’s expansion of its airport facilities.
The country will spend $17.4 billion over the next five years to build 42 airports in cities stretching from the Russian border in the northeast to the high Tibetan plateau in the southwest. Chinese planners have orders to expand 73 airports and to move 11.
A terminal being built in Beijing is seven stories high and 2.4 miles long —the world’s largest airport terminal when it opens to greet Olympic visitors in 2008.
Infrastructure is particularly important to states like Minnesota in the middle of the country, which must ship their products out-of-state, and increasingly, are exporting their goods abroad.
Last week’s fatal bridge collapse has, tragically, only reinforced the need to act in a serious way on infrastructure. Committed to a positive contribution to the debate — to positive action — the NAM today announced formation of a coalition, the Alliance for Improving America’s Infrastructure. Governor Engler explained the coalition’s goals on the radio today.
As horrible as the bridge tragedy in Minnesota was, it really brought home the importance of a reliable infrastructure. Roads, bridges, airports, harbors: They’re the foundation of a strong economy for any nation. But we’ve now seen that they’re also a matter of life and death. That’s why the NAM is forming a coalition to work on a national infrastructure strategy. Plans are coming out of the Congress, out of the Department of Transportation, but manufacturers’ expertise is necessary. We’ve got incredible experience and knowledge that we can draw on when it comes to infrastructure. We need a modern, reliable and safe infrastructure, not just for the economy, but for the safety of our citizens.
Much more to come on this in the days ahead.
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