America’s Business

Manufacturing Can Lead the Way Toward 12 Million New Jobs

NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons is blogging from the Republican National Convention in Tampa this week.

Last night, Mitt Romney wrapped up the Republican Convention and succinctly summed up what this election is about.  “What America needs is jobs,” he said. “Lots of jobs.”

Jobs are indeed what will get voters to the polls.  Unemployment has stood over 8 percent for 42 consecutive months—that spans President’s Obama’s entire presidency.  Worse still, millions more Americans are working in jobs for which they are overqualified, not getting the full benefit of the skills they have worked so hard to acquire.

Governor Romney promised to create 12 million jobs, and while he did not single out manufacturing, he did lay out a number of priorities for manufacturers. He talked about an “all-of-the-above” energy plan—though he did not use that term—but it was clear what he meant when he talked about “taking full advantage of our oil and coal and gas and nuclear and renewables.”

He talked about new free trade agreements, a key priority if American manufacturers are to reach the 95 percent of consumers who live outside the United States.  President Obama deserves credit for seeing the Colombia, Panama and South Korea trade pacts through to completion, but our country’s trade agenda has since stalled.  We need to get it moving again.

Romney talked about providing our young people with the skills they need to succeed in the modern workplace and simplifying and modernizing our complex and onerous regulatory system.  Both are important to manufacturers’ ability to grow and create jobs.

Now it’s on to Charlotte, where President Obama and his supporters will have their chance to make the case for another term.  President Obama will undoubtedly defend his record, but manufacturers are also expecting to hear what he plans to do if voters decide to extend his stay in the White House.

Eight percent unemployment and stagnant economic growth is unacceptable, and with the elections just two months away, manufacturers expect a clear pro-growth vision from Republicans and Democrats alike.

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South Carolina Governor Highlights Manufacturing

NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons is blogging from the Republican National Convention in Tampa this week.

The Republican National Convention kicked off in earnest last night.  The atmosphere in the Tampa Bay Times Forum was electric.

For me, the highlight of the evening was the speech of Nikki Haley, the governor of South Carolina.  The Palmetto State is a great place to manufacture, and the industry has had a significant, positive impact on the state’s economy.  As Governor Haley said, “We build things in the Palmetto State. We build planes. We build cars.”

But it’s not always easy. As the Governor pointed out in no uncertain terms, in recent years, the federal government has put up obstacles to growth in the state.

When the Boeing Company expanded into South Carolina, it was a great opportunity.  Boeing’s billion-dollar investment meant 1,000 new jobs, and it meant that the state would be at the forefront of aerospace innovation, building the new 787 Dreamliner aircraft.

The National Labor Relations Board, however, stepped in and said the investment violated our labor laws, an action that threatened to wipe out Boeing’s investment and the new jobs.  Ultimately, Boeing prevailed, and today the South Carolina facility is up and running.

Governor Haley told this story well last night and offered an incisive perspective about the consequences of government overreach and its impact on a state and its citizens

I’m looking forward to hearing more about manufacturing from the speakers tonight.  In the meantime, the NAM continues to ensure manufacturing remains on everyone’s radar in Tampa.

This morning, I had a conversation with Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, who was a manufacturer before coming to the Senate in 2011.  We talked about the devastating impact the fiscal abyss would have on the economy and about the need for Congress to act quickly to avert this threat.

The fiscal abyss is a common theme in Tampa. The issue has come up repeatedly in my conversations with members of the press and media, and given the dire predictions that inaction by Congress could plunge the nation back into a recession, it’s no surprise why.

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Leaders Highlight Manufacturing Challenges at NAM-Politico Event

NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons is blogging from the Republican National Convention in Tampa this week.

In a matter of hours, we’ll hear the first speeches at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, but the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) had an early opportunity to hear from some of our nation’s top leaders earlier this afternoon.

Carly Fiorina, Rep. Darrell Issa and Gov. Bob McDonnell discuss jobs and the economy at the RNC in Tampa, Fla./Photo by David Bohrer

The NAM has partnered with the Politico newspaper to host policy events with political and business leaders in Tampa and Charlotte. Today, Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia, Congressman Darrell Issa of California and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina talked about the challenges job creators face and the policies that will get our economy moving again.

Manufacturing is clearly a priority in the economic recovery.  After all, it has the highest multiplier effect of any other industry. Every dollar invested in manufacturing generates another $1.35 in economic activity. What’s good for manufacturing is good for our entire economy.

McDonnell, Issa and Fiorina each talked about the impediments that job creators face in this country and singled out taxes and regulation as challenges—sentiments that echo what manufacturers have been saying. As the recent NAM/Industry Week survey of manufacturers found, 64 percent of manufacturers cite the unfavorable business climate created by taxes and regulation as their biggest challenge.

Competitive tax and regulatory policies would go a long way toward restoring our economy to full strength. With the right policies, like those outlined in the NAM’s Manufacturing Renaissance, manufacturing will lead the economic resurgence and put Americans back to work.

The NAM-Politico event was great opportunity to highlight manufacturing and its crucial role in our nation’s future.  That’s why the NAM is attending the conventions: To make sure that the national conversation about manufacturing continues into November and beyond.

Our collaboration with Politico is just part of our efforts. This morning, I talked about the policy challenges manufacturers face and what we are looking for from both presidential candidates on CNBC’s Squawkbox.

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Sweet Success for Cookie Maker

Every so often, manufacturing reaches a milestone.  Today is one of those days, for the Oreo cookie turns 100.  It is one of the many delicious snack foods produced by manufacturers in this country.

The Oreo’s success reflects a key point about modern manufacturing: today’s marketplace is global. While the Oreo may be “America’s Favorite Cookie,” consumers in this country represent a just small share of consumers worldwide.  Indeed, 95 percent of consumers live outside our borders, and reaching those individuals is key to growth.

It’s not always easy.  A story in the Wall Street Journal a few years back highlighted efforts to bring the Oreo to China.  After a “grassroots marketing campaign to educate Chinese consumers about the American tradition of pairing milk with cookies” and a reformulation of the Oreo to suit Chinese tastes, the cookie won China.

That’s what manufacturers do: adapt, innovate and ultimately provide consumers with products that make life better.  Today, the Oreo is enjoyed around the world.

What’s in store for the next century?  No doubt the Oreo will face challenges, as it did over the last 100 years.  The cookie, however, has proved resilient. Whether it’s dispatching a competitor like Hydrox or beating back attempts by nanny-staters to take away life’s little pleasures, the numbers don’t lie: 450 billion cookies sold.

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Today: NAM President Addresses City Club of Cleveland

NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons will address the City Club of Cleveland at 12:30 p.m. Eastern time tomorrow and share his insights on the manufacturing outlook for 2012 and beyond.

You can watch the event here.

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NAM Chair To Address Detroit Economic Club

NAM Board Chair Mary Andringa will be the featured speaker at the Detroit Economic Club on today.  Be sure to tune in at 12:35 p.m. Eastern time.  You can watch the speech live at www.nam.org/DEC.

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Dallas and Richmond Fed Manufacturing Surveys Are Mixed

Two regional surveys on manufacturing released this morning provided mixed results regarding activity in their districts.

First, the Richmond Federal Reserve Bank found that manufacturing activity picked up slightly after stabilizing last month. The index of general business conditions rose from no change in November to +3 in December. The Richmond district observed contracting activity from July to October.

There were improvements across the board in a number of areas, including shipments, new orders, finished goods inventories, the average workweek and wages. But the number of employees contracted slightly.

Looking ahead six months, manufacturers remained very positive, but their expectations eased somewhat from last month. For instance, the index for new orders fell from 37 to 21 for the month, with similar shifts seen in data for shipments, employment and capital spending.

Pricing pressures have also eased. Last month, respondents said that prices paid for raw materials rose 3.42 percent on an annual basis. This month, that increase was just 0.81 percent. Moving into 2012, prices paid for raw materials are expected to go up 2.7 percent.

Meanwhile, the Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas found that manufacturers were contracting less than in November. Measures for production, new orders and shipments were less negative in December than the previous month, signifying some improvement in the market.

In addition, businesses had a better outlook for themselves than for the economy as a whole. The general business activity index dropped from 3.2 to -3.0 for the month, suggesting a slight increase in pessimism. Yet, the company outlook index rose from 4.7 to 6.6, reflecting improved company performance. Perhaps because of this, measures for employment were higher.

The future outlook is also rosier, with manufacturers optimistic on all of their production, employment and capital spending indicators. Most of them suggested strongly positive growth in the months ahead — a good sign.

Overall, these surveys observe some modest improvements among manufacturers in their respective districts, with the Texas indicators still showing some contractions. As we move into 2012, though, the outlook is brighter.

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Timmons Talks with Reuters Reporters

Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), speaks at the 2011 Reuters Manufacturing and Transportation Summit. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons met with Reuters reporters to talk about the future of the U.S. manufacturing economy today.  Timmons was in New York for the Reuters Manufacturing and Transportation Summit.

“The next year is really setting the table,” [Timmons] said. “It is an election year. So there may be a few areas of progress that we can make on the regulatory side, but I think it is really going to be important for the presidential candidates and all the candidates running for federal office to be outlining their comprehensive plan for economic growth.”

 

For more, read this report on the Reuters event.

Click here to watch the Reuters video of NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons and NAM members from Caterpillar, Boeing, Harley Davidson and Siemens discuss the impact of Washington’s political gridlock on manufacturers.


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Smithfield Foods Launches Social Responsibility Website

Last week, global packaged meats company Smithfield Foods launched a brand new website about their corporate social responsibility programs, called Smithfieldcommitments.com

The goal of the site is to provide the company’s key stakeholders with information on the company’s products from start to finish and to begin a running dialogue on the food manufacturing process. Smithfieldcommitments.com will also make available the most recent information on Smithfield Food’s corporate social responsibility initiatives and the goals they have achieved.

If a customer has a question about the way one of Smithfield’s products is made all they have to do is log on to the site and join the running Q&A to get answers from Smithfield Foods senior officials. Some questions are even answered by video.

This is a great new use of social media and the web by a food manufacturer to provide customers with the best and most relevant information possible about the food products they are consuming.

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Tomorrow: Women in Manufacturing Symposium

We’re seeing a lot of “firsts” for manufacturers.

Just last week, the NAM hosted its first-ever economist forum.  Next Tuesday, the NAM will sponsor the first-ever Presidential Forum on Manufacturing.

And now comes word that the Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) is delivering a first of its own: the “Women in Manufacturing” symposium.  The event kicks off tomorrow in Cleveland and runs through Wednesday.  Review the slate of speakers here.

As the PMA puts it,

This unique networking and educational event, designed exclusively for women who have chosen a career in the manufacturing industry, will provide an opportunity for participants to share perspectives, network with colleagues and hear from leading female executives in the manufacturing sector.

And what are manufacturers saying about this inaugural event?

“The first-ever PMA Women in Manufacturing Symposium brings together women in manufacturing to focus on best practices and interaction that will provide another platform for engaging the industry.”

That’s from Kellie Johnson, the president of ACE Clearwater Enterprises and also the chair of the NAM’s Small and Medium Manufacturers Group.

The symposium looks like a great way to connect with manufacturers from around the country. For more on tomorrow’s event, click here.

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