Manufacturing executives gathered in North Carolina today for a panel discussion on innovation, the future of manufacturing and key policies. The panel was hosted by John Ferriola, chairman, CEO and president of Nucor Corporation; other participants included Jay Timmons, NAM president and CEO; Matt Barr, chairman and CEO of Carolina Color Corporation; and John Lundgren, chairman and CEO of Stanley Black & Decker, Inc., and NAM Board vice chair.
Heading into a presidential election year, panelists discussed policies that candidates should be prioritizing to promote growth in the manufacturing sector. Last week, the NAM released a roadmap for political candidates, “Competing to Win: Manufacturers’ Agenda for Economic Growth and American Exceptionalism.”
One top priority panelists expanded on was improving and modernizing our nation’s infrastructure system. In North Carolina, a booming population is putting a severe strain on the state’s roads, trains, planes and ports. Unfortunately, this problem spans across the United States. The nation’s decaying infrastructure is outdated and has been facing a decline in capital spending for the past decade, due in no small part to gridlock in Washington.
The infrastructure agenda for 2016 should prioritize critical infrastructure projects, address issues with ports and waterways, limit transportation regulation so that critical services are not prohibited and ensure the highest safety and efficiency standards for our aviation system. In addition, the length of time it takes to pass transportation authorizations through Congress is unacceptable. Weak infrastructure and continued stop-start efforts make it impossible for manufacturers to plan for the future, endanger productivity and make it difficult to compete head-to-head with companies and countries across the globe.
However, improving our nation’s outdated infrastructure is just one problem on a list of many. Policy priorities for manufacturers also include modernizing our nation’s tax code, promoting open and fair trade, capitalizing on the energy renaissance, adapting labor policies for a 21st-century workforce, comprehensive immigration reform, decreasing health care costs and reducing regulatory and legal barriers—just to name a few.
Manufacturing is the backbone of our economy and represents the core values of our nation with principles of free enterprise, competition, individual liberty and equal opportunity.
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