Yesterday, NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons joined manufacturing executives at a Chicago panel focusing on growing manufacturing in the United States. The panel, hosted by The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, featured Tenneco Inc. Chairman and CEO and NAM Board Vice Chair Gregg Sherrill, Snap-on Incorporated Chairman and CEO and NAM Board member Nicholas T. Pinchuk and Eli Lilly and Company Senior Vice President and Lilly Diabetes President and NAM Board member Enrique A. Conterno.
The discussion, titled “Manufacturing an Agenda for American Growth,” focused on modernizing the U.S. workforce and infrastructure and developing competitive tax, energy and trade policies. Phil Levy, The Chicago Council’s senior fellow on the global economy, moderated the discussion.
Timmons discussed the manufacturing comeback, but also cautioned that ill-advised policies out of Washington are holding manufacturers back. “I am struck by manufacturers’ optimism about the future. But I also see the frustration—frustration with a government that talks a lot about strengthening manufacturing, but then does little to back it up. The fact is that the growth in our sector, modest as it is, has come in spite of Washington and not because of it. Think how much more we could do if Washington stopped making it harder to do business.”
Sherrill focused on the need for fiscal and entitlement reform and the importance of a competitive tax code, while Conterno highlighted the importance of expanding trade to strengthening the manufacturing economy. Finally, Pinchuk discussed the need to address a growing skills gap in the manufacturing workforce.
After taking questions from the audience, Timmons ended the panel by highlighting the importance of getting involved in the political process, noting that “public policy matters, and manufacturers—with their outsized impact on the economy—have a responsibility to ensure policymakers hear our voices.”