When NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons visited Tampa today on the State of Manufacturing Tour, he drew attention to one of the most critical pieces of our infrastructure system here in the United States: our ports. The Port of Tampa sees more than 37 million tons of cargo per year and is a vital transportation hub for our exports to China, Japan, India and throughout South America. As Florida’s largest cargo port, it supports 80,000 jobs and adds $15 billion to the economy.
And our port system is vital to the success of manufacturers. Manufacturing supports an estimated 18.5 million jobs in the United States and contributes $2.17 trillion to the economy. For every dollar spent in manufacturing, another $1.40 is added to the economy. It’s the highest multiplier effect of any sector of the economy. When manufacturing succeeds, America succeeds. Yet, obstacles such as crumbling infrastructure remain in the way of forging an economy that lives up to our people and the potential we can unleash.
With the presidential campaigns underway, manufacturers are outlining the policies that our leaders should pursue, such as forward-looking solutions that prioritize and address the growing backlog of essential projects needed for a 21st-century infrastructure system. We need to build on the success of last year’s surface transportation bill and address other persistent infrastructure challenges we face in our ports and inland waterways.
In the next few weeks, manufacturers will be in front of Congress testifying on the need for Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) reauthorization. WRRDA 2014 put the authorization of critical inland waterway and port dredging projects back on track after years of delay. WRRDA 2016 has the potential to have exceptionally large impacts on commerce and the environment. This law provides the authorization for construction of projects involving the deepening, widening and maintenance of ports, navigation channels and inland waterways as well as the building and maintenance of locks, dams and levees.
Manufacturers now turn to Congress to continue their commitment to our nation’s infrastructure with a timely reauthorization of this critical program. This legislation can ensure a better transportation system for manufactured goods by addressing, among other things, issues that still remain in streamlining environmental reviews to ensure they’re completed within the three-year cap, granting the spending targets for the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund and authorizing critical new projects and much-needed lock and dam maintenance.
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