“The president’s call for a substantial $1.5 trillion investment is the kind of leadership manufacturers have wanted for a very long time.”
The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), in partnership with the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), led two Infrastructure Working Group (IWG) Hill Days on March 6 and 7 to build momentum on Capitol Hill behind a substantial investment in the country’s infrastructure. Over the past two days, representatives of manufacturers, organized labor, agriculture, retail, finance and local government held roughly 50 meetings with congressional leadership and members from the relevant authorizing committees. Some flew into D.C. from as far away as Texas and Iowa to make the case for upgrades to our nation’s infrastructure systems.
NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons and AGC CEO Stephen Sandherr authored an op-ed in The Hill, Manufacturing and construction are expanding and ready to take on infrastructure package. They said:
“In other words, if we want to keep the momentum going, then Washington needs to enact a substantial infrastructure package as soon as possible. It’s an important message and one we’re taking to Capitol Hill today as part of the Infrastructure Working Group, bringing together a wide range of viewpoints, from labor, to retail, to finance, to agriculture. We are united in our determination to demonstrate broad support for infrastructure and see the type of action we think is necessary.”
The IWG has been meeting monthly for the past year, hearing from key policymakers in Congress and the White House and discussing solutions to address our country’s inadequately funded infrastructure. The group launched its first advocacy initiatives this year. At the beginning of this year’s congressional session, the NAM led an IWG letter signed by more than 100 business groups to the Republican and Democrat leaders in the House and Senate, urging them to develop and advance an infrastructure bill. These Hill Days brought that message directly to key members of the House and Senate.
There’s no doubt we need a substantial infrastructure investment. Republicans and Democrats both recognize that America’s economic competitiveness depends on first-rate infrastructure systems. Key manufacturing, retail and labor leaders made the following statements of support below:
David Farr, NAM Board Chair, Chairman and CEO, Emerson
“The time is now to work together to pass a targeted, substantial investment in modernizing our nation’s infrastructure that includes a more reliable, user-based funding stream to keep building roads, bridges, transit systems and highways far into the future. We can create more jobs, boost growth, save lives and help secure America’s mantle of economic leadership in the process. Manufacturers are all in to get infrastructure done, and we stand ready to do our part and build to win.”
Sean McGarvey, President, North America’s Building Trades Unions
“The Infrastructure Working Group Hill Days will allow congressional leaders, both Republicans and Democrats, to hear from a broad and sizable coalition of stakeholders on the importance of investing in our nation’s infrastructure. The state of our infrastructure presents a real challenge—the 14 affiliated unions of North America’s Building Trades know it, and the American people know it. It is now up to Congress to meet this challenge with a broad, robust, responsible bipartisan infrastructure package, and we are willing to work with our coalition partners and members of Congress to pass a bill that addresses our present infrastructure challenges and creates good job opportunities for the hard-working craft professionals of North America’s Building Trades Unions.”
Matthew Shay, President and CEO, National Retail Federation
“Representing some of the nation’s largest shippers, NRF continues to call on Congress to follow the president’s lead and act on infrastructure this year. If we keep kicking the can down the road, this urgent issue will become even more challenging and costly to address. We hope bipartisan discussions will produce the infrastructure solutions American retailers, workers and consumers have been waiting for.”
The NAM has been a national leader for years on infrastructure and enshrined manufacturers priorities in our “Building to Win” proposal. Manufacturers will continue to lead this push for results and work with lawmakers so that a bipartisan infrastructure investment makes it to the finish line.
On Wednesday, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced that the administration’s infrastructure proposal would be released in the new year. At the same time, Special Assistant to the President for Infrastructure Policy DJ Gribbin joined a bipartisan infrastructure conversation that featured House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-OR), manufacturers, farmers, truckers and infrastructure financiers. Making manufacturing more competitive by advancing an infrastructure package that increases certainty was at the center of one panel discussion, titled “Rural America and an Infrastructure Package.”
Shop floors are commonly located in rural areas and rely on the same vital infrastructure needs as manufacturers in urban areas. Manufacturers look forward to a 2018 infrastructure package that advances and invests in energy, water, broadband and transportation infrastructure projects. Regardless of whether it is a rural or urban area, if ports are clogged, trucks are delayed, power is down or the internet has a lapse, productivity and customer service are impacted.
That said, rural infrastructure faces different challenges in funding and delivering projects given low population levels. They are often not suited to public–private partnerships. During the event, Gribbin outlined that President Donald Trump’s plan would include a special rural component or set-aside to ensure that rural infrastructure is not overlooked.
The National Association of Manufacturers continues to build support among diverse stakeholder groups by advancing a comprehensive infrastructure proposal in the House and Senate.
If you are going to get cut off during an interview, it might as well be for the president of the United States.
Just before President Donald Trump discussed his vision to modernize America’s infrastructure and continue to support manufacturers in the United States, I joined Stuart Varney on “Fox Business” to offer the perspective of our nation’s 12 million manufacturers on the urgent need to advance infrastructure investment and remove job-crushing regulations.
As I told Stu, the bottom line is that the American people want to get things done. Manufacturers are encouraged that the president is getting things done, incorporating elements of the National Association of Manufacturers’ (NAM) “Building to Win” strategy, and we hope Washington comes together to get a big, jobs-first, trillion-dollar infrastructure plan done.
There’s a reason 93 percent of the NAM’s members recently surveyed are optimistic about their outlook on their economy—a 20-year record high. It’s because President Trump is not just delivering speeches like he did today. He’s listening to manufacturers and putting actions behind his words—to create jobs and lift standards of living for everyone.
Infrastructure Week 2017 reached record high levels of participation by doubling both the number of events that occurred in 2016 as well as the number of affiliate members that joined in calling on policymakers to invest in infrastructure now. According to first reports, more than 1,500 people contacted their representatives or senators last week alone. Since May 1, Infrastructure Week made 175 million social media impressions. Our collective voice was loud, and it was heard.
To ensure manufacturers hold President Donald Trump to his commitment to make U.S. infrastructure “second to none,” the call to action must continue from diverse, united stakeholders who recognize that infrastructure is the backbone of a strong manufacturing economy. We need every manufacturing employee and company to engage in this call for infrastructure because our work is not done.
Kathryn Karol is the vice president of global government and corporate affairs for Caterpillar Inc. She stated,
“At Caterpillar, we believe that every week should be Infrastructure Week. We are pleased that the president and Congress agree that wise investments in infrastructure must be a national priority. Caterpillar and our customers stand ready to deliver on those investments and make infrastructure an engine for economic growth and job creation in the U.S.”
Please keep the momentum of Infrastructure Week going by using the National Association of Manufacturers’ (NAM) infrastructure toolkit to contact members of Congress with emails, phone calls and meetings. The NAM will continue to push for a comprehensive plan to revitalize the nation’s transportation, energy, water and broadband infrastructure. This week, NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons furthered the NAM call that now is the time to build with a piece published in the Cincinnati Enquirer, titled “Time to act on Brent Spence Bridge and nation’s crumbling infrastructure.”
During the fifth-annual Infrastructure Week, the NAM, as a steering committee member, led efforts to unite varied voices behind a broad call for infrastructure investment. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao gave the keynote address at the launch event on Monday, followed by a discussion between Timmons and Laborers’ International Union of North America General President Terry O’Sullivan on how manufacturers depend on infrastructure. C-SPAN covered the event.
Ingersoll-Rand Chairman and CEO and NAM Executive Committee member Michael Lamach represented the NAM in an interview on CNBC. Manitowoc Company President and CEO Barry Pennypacker authored a Shopfloor blog on local infrastructure needs and represented the NAM in a roundtable discussion with congressional leaders, business executives and Department of Transportation special advisers. Also on the NAM Shopfloor blog, Fluor Corporation Chairman and CEO and NAM Board Vice Chair David Seaton explored the benefits of public–private partnerships, and NAM Vice President of Energy and Resources Policy Ross Eisenberg outlined manufacturers’ dependence on robust energy infrastructure. The NAM co-hosted an official Infrastructure Week Congressional Reception on Wednesday, May 17, featuring congressional co-chair Reps. Garret Graves (R-LA) and Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY).
The Ports of Indiana and American Association of Port Authorities hosted an infrastructure roundtable in Indianapolis that included participation from NAM members Subaru of Indiana, ArcelorMittal and the Indiana Manufacturers Association. The meeting also included federal officials from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Department of Transportation as well as the Indiana Department of Transportation Commissioner. The discussion was about advocating major infrastructure improvements, including the Soo Locks and specifically the Poe Lock in Upper Peninsula Michigan, which every Midwest steel manufacturer relies on. A Shopfloor blog can be found here.
The NAM’s efforts in combination with the efforts of thousands of other Infrastructure Week participants were extraordinary, but we must stay engaged. A comprehensive, pro-manufacturing infrastructure package faces political and philosophical challenges. Despite differences, we must stand united in support of overdue infrastructure revitalization to bolster economic competitiveness here in the United States.
The American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) most recent report card gave our nation’s energy infrastructure a D+ grade, pointing out that most U.S. energy infrastructure predates the 21st century. The ASCE says aging electricity infrastructure contributed to 3,571 total outages in 2015, and oil refineries have been operating at around 90 percent capacity. The future presents even bigger challenges: a changing electric grid, new technologies and new sources of energy and changes to where and how energy is being produced will all require improved infrastructure, and it’s not clear that we can keep up. The ASCE projects the investment gap for energy infrastructure to be $177 billion from 2016 to 2025.
The NAM’s “Building to Win” blueprint puts forward several recommendations to improve our energy infrastructure. Recommended actions include the following:
- Reform existing laws and regulations to facilitate a more transparent, streamlined and coordinated regulatory process for the siting and permitting of all energy delivery infrastructure, including oil and natural gas pipelines, energy transport by rail, energy export terminals and interstate electric transmission infrastructure.
- Promote new energy infrastructure investments as a means of increasing U.S. infrastructure’s resilience to climate change by designing for projected future climate conditions. Regulators should work to more quickly approve smart investments.
- Examine innovative financing mechanisms for new energy infrastructure to encourage private investment.
- Coordinate underground infrastructure work for road, water, gas, electric and broadband to yield construction savings and reduce traffic disruptions from construction work.
- Invest in regions without a developed pipeline network to bring down home heating costs in places like New England and make manufacturers more competitive.
The National Association of Manufacturers has been encouraged that lawmakers are focusing on energy as a key component of a broader infrastructure package. We’ll be at the table working to drive solutions that make manufacturers more competitive.
From the crossroads of America, Indiana Ports and the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) hosted an important session with manufacturers, truckers, engineering firms and thought leaders as well as state and local officials about maximizing infrastructure investments and strategically positioning and advocating infrastructure in ongoing national debates.
Indiana is a top manufacturing state in the nation representing the highest manufacturing employment in the United States—17 percent of the Hoosier workforce. With manufacturing well represented in Indiana’s economic footprint, investment in roads, rails, Burns Harbor on Lake Michigan and two inland ports on the Ohio River could not be more important. Fifty-seven percent of the state’s border is water.
Due to complex supply chains of manufacturers and just-in-time inventory principles, leading manufacturers like ArcelorMittal and Subaru of Indiana need Indiana infrastructure to perform and to perform second to none. The good news is that the state has made significant investments, raised revenues and supported projects that the business community needs to keep competitive. It has a vibrant supply of rail, trucking and waterway services. But these sectors do not operate in isolation.
The challenge, however, remains projects of regional and national significance that make a system-wide impact on the movement of critical materials and goods throughout the country and world. In Indianapolis, roundtable participants raised the genuine concern about the long-term condition of the Soo Lock System and especially the Poe Lock in Michigan. The current Poe Lock was built in 1969 and is at risk of failure. It handles more than 90 percent of U.S.-flag vessel cargo passing between Lake Superior and the lower Great Lakes, including more than 40 million tons of iron ore and coal destined for steel mills.
The status quo of the Poe Lock and the aging locks on the inland waterway system is a threat to manufacturing because a catastrophic failure will harm the economy and jobs. According to a 2015 U.S. Department of Homeland Security report, an unanticipated six-month closure of the Poe Lock would likely result in widespread bankruptcies and dislocations throughout the economy. More than 10 million people in the United States and 2 million to 5 million more in Canada and Mexico would lose their jobs. North American economies would enter a severe recession. The U.S. recession impacts would be concentrated in the Great Lakes region, though California and Texas would experience some of the largest job losses. Entire manufacturing industries would be debilitated, including automobiles; appliances; construction, farming and mining equipment; and railcars and locomotives.
Indiana and others states are competing against industrial behemoths like China, Japan and Germany. Competition between states will always be around, but the focus on edging out the international competition is even more acute. These competitors do not even think twice about robustly investing in infrastructure to support industry. Productivity growth in the United States is central to expanding the U.S. economy, and while it’s bigger than one industry or one state, more efficient transportation and infrastructure systems are necessary to create an environment that fosters increased productivity. The Infrastructure Week message to the president, House of Representatives and the Senate: #TimeToBuild is vital now. The NAM has produced an infrastructure toolkit to provide manufacturers the resources to amplify this Infrastructure Week message.