Fiscal Cliff Threatens to Drag Manufacturers Back Down

By November 13, 2012General

For 140 years, Neenah Enterprises has represented the resilience of manufacturing in the United States—flourishing during good times and weathering bad times but always bouncing back. The Appleton, Wisconsin–based manufacturer of cast-iron products like truck axles and manhole covers has been a leader in its field, providing jobs to hundreds of people and making products that make our infrastructure run.

During the past recession, Neenah Enterprises endured significant financial difficulty, but it had begun to grow and prosper again only to find itself staring at tax increases and business decreases that threaten its nascent recovery. The uncertainty placed on it by the fiscal cliff has already led to the elimination of 150 jobs in recent months, and two-thirds of its plants have decreased production. Neenah is not alone in this struggle, as manufacturers that had to dig out of the past recession are faced with policies that threaten to put them right back where standing still is the best-case scenario.

Neenah Enterprises President and CEO Tom Riordan doesn’t believe that policymakers in Washington truly understand the situation. “The political back and forth and the brinksmanship have put us and our customers in a situation where Neenah Enterprises is being buried by uncertainty. Even coming this close to the fiscal cliff has placed us in a position where we’ve had to significantly scale back our operations. If we go over the cliff, it’s going to get a lot worse.”

An agreement that prevents the United States from going over the fiscal cliff is critical to protecting manufacturers from a catastrophic situation. Mr. Riordan is clear on one thing: if we go over the cliff, it’s going to take a very long time to get back to where we are. The NAM’s study on the impact of the fiscal cliff backs this up, which forecasts that it would take the better part of the decade for the economy to recover—time that manufacturers like Neenah Enterprises should be able to invest and grow rather than trying to weather yet another economic storm.

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