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NAM’s Timmons Speaks at GE Forum on Manufacturing

By | Energy | No Comments

This morning NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons spoke at a breakfast discussion hosted by GE and the Greater Houston Partnership titled “Houston Works: How Energy and Manufacturing Innovation is Leading the Way.” More than 150 people attended the event which brought together city and business leaders as well as elected officials to talk about the important role of Houston’s energy and manufacturing sectors to America’s competitiveness.

In his remarks Timmons spoke about the impact of manufacturing on the economy and what is needed to strengthen manufacturing so it can continue to drive our economy and innovation:

To reach our potential, manufacturers need policymakers to address each of these issues so that manufacturers both in this country and abroad invest in the United States. A bold, pro-growth agenda will send a powerful message to the world that the U.S. is serious about maintaining its mantle of economic leadership.

Timmons also discussed the importance of affordable energy to manufacturers:

Reliable and affordable energy is particularly important for manufacturers, which use one-third of the energy produced in the United States. Access to energy can be a selling point for the United States, but we have to utilize the abundant resources we have at our disposal and ensure that regulations don’t raise the cost of energy to uncompetitive levels. All sources of energy should be on the table. The “all-of-the-above” energy strategy our country’s leaders keep talking about should be just that: all-of-the-above.

President and CEO of GE Energy John Krenicki delivered the Keynote address at the breakfast today. Today’s discussion was a great way to get together local leaders and business leaders to discuss the future of manufacturing. The energy sector is incredibly vital manufacturing and it’s important to continue to have forums such as this to educate leaders at all levels of the need for pro-growth and pro-energy policies that will create jobs. Timmons also spoke at the GE forum held in February in Washington on the competitiveness of manufacturing.

The NAM’s Manufacturing Renaisannce: Four Goals for Economic Growth highlights the policies needed to keep manufacturing competitive. One of the goals outlined is an “all of the above” energy strategy that will help increase energy production to help manufacturers gain access to affordable energy. It’s imperative to job creation and manufacturing that we continue to pursue a real “all of the above” energy approach.

Manufacturers Named to Council on Jobs and Competitiveness

By | Economy | No Comments

The White House has announced the names of the members of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, which meets for the first time this afternoon.

The 23 members include nine current manufacturing executives or people who have led manufacturing operations so that’s good. President Obama earlier appointed Jeff Immelt, head of General Election, to chair the advisory group.

The full list of members is here.

The manufacturers:

  • Lewis “Lew” Hay, III is chairman and chief executive officer of NextEra Energy, Inc., one of the nation’s leading electricity-related services companies and the largest renewable energy generator in North America
  • Ellen Kullman is chair of the board and chief executive officer of DuPont. Prior to becoming chief executive officer in 2009, she served as executive vice president and a member of the company’s office of the chief executive.
  • A.G. Lafley is the former Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer of Procter & Gamble. He currently serves as Special Partner at Clayton, Dubilier & Rice and as a Director of the General Electric Company
  • Darlene Miller is the owner and CEO of Permac Industries, a Minnesota machining company custom manufacturing precision parts for customers worldwide.
  • Paul S. Otellini is President and Chief Executive Officer of Intel Corporation. Mr. Otellini previously had served as Intel’s president and chief operating officer, positions he held since 2002, the same year he was elected to Intel’s board of directors.
  • Antonio Perez is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Kodak. Since joining the company in 2003, Mr. Perez has led the worldwide transformation of Kodak from a business based on film to one based primarily on digital technologies.
  • Brian L. Roberts is Chairman and CEO of Comcast Corporation and Chairman of the Board of Directors of NBCUniversal.
  • Matt Rose is Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Corporation.

The one small-business representative on the panel is Darlene Miller of Permac Industries.

UPDATE (11:05 a.m.): The Washington Post reports, “The president will assemble a motley crew of business executives and others Thursday to solicit ideas on the economy at the White House.” Post must have meant “motley” as in the sense of diverse, not harlequin-like.

In India, Secretary Locke Notes Trade Opportunities, Obstacles

By | Taxation, Trade | No Comments

Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke gave the keynote speech today at an event sponsored by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in New Delhi, one of the events on a trade and business mission he is leading through India this week. Twenty-four U.S. businesses are represented on the trip, including several manufacturers.

The Commerce Department is blogging the trip. Key excerpt from the secretary’s speech:

Between 2004 and 2008, trade doubled between India and the United States. 

And ours is increasingly a partnership of equals. . .

. . . With major U.S. multinationals like Cisco, GE and IBM locating major research and development facilities here, and depending on Indian scientists and engineers to do growing amounts of higher value-added work.

I think the growing respect that U.S. businesses have for India can be summed up by the words of a Cisco executive who said:

We came to India for the costs, we stayed for the quality and we’re now investing for innovation.

Key caveat:

Even though India has made tremendous strides to open up its economy, there is much work left to be done. Read More

Manufacturing, Leading the Way in Energy Efficiency

By | Energy | One Comment

Manufacturing’s impressive gains in energy efficiency often come via new processes and products that do not necessarily attract major headlines (or Presidential visits), but still represent progress the U.S. economy must make toward energy savings and global competitiveness.

Take, for example, this advance as reported by The Environmental Leader, “GM Rolling out GE Efficiency Program at 20 Plants“:

A GE energy efficiency program with a less than six-month payback is being implemented at 20 General Motors plants, the two companies have announced.

GM has adapted GE’s Proficy Cimplicity software to tie the use of lights to the schedule of conveyers. The manufacturer then discovered other aspects of consumption that could also be tied to conveyer operations, including air supply houses, compressed air generators, water and paint shop ovens.

“Everything in a vehicle assembly plant is tied to the conveyor,” said Mike Durak, General Motors, Global Information Technology Manager. “A hidden benefit was that once we scheduled the conveyor we had a good view into what the plant was doing, so we were able to schedule the on and off of big energy consumers in the plant.”

Less than a six-month payback! And GM adapted the technology because it was a good business decision, one that saves it money.

And let’s extend a thanks to the programmers, too. Energy efficiency sometimes requires new equipment, sometimes new software. Impressive in either case.

GE’s Immelt: A Blueprint for Keeping America Competitive

By | Economy, Energy, Innovation, Regulations, Trade | 3 Comments

The White House has announced that President Obama will sign an executive order creating the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. The chairman will be Jeff Immelt, chairman and chief executive of General Electric.

Immelt referred to the new council in an op-ed in today’s Washington Post, saying it would comprise representatives of small and large businesses, labor, economists and government and expressing hope it would serve as “a sounding board for ideas and a catalyst for action on jobs and competitiveness.”

And what action does America need? Immelt identified manufacturing, exports and innovation as priorities. From “A blueprint for keeping America competitive“:

Manufacturing and exports: We need a coordinated commitment among business, labor and government to expand our manufacturing base and increase exports. The assumption made by many that the United States could transition from a technology-based, export-oriented economic powerhouse to a services-led, consumption-based economy without any serious loss of jobs, prosperity or prestige was fundamentally wrong. But there is nothing inevitable about America’s declining manufacturing competitiveness if we work together to reverse it. For example, we have returned many GE appliance manufacturing jobs to the States by collaborating with our unions and making our operations more efficient.

Working with Boeing CEO Jim McNerney, who leads the President’s Export Council, the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness will look for ways to harness the power of international markets – home to more than 95 percent of the world’s consumers. Currently, the United States ranks lowest among the world’s largest manufacturing nations in the ratio of domestically produced goods sold overseas, or export intensity. We must set as our highest economic priority not just increasing our exports, as the president has pledged, but also making the United States the world’s leading exporter in the 21st century.

Free trade: America cannot expand its manufacturing base without greatly increasing the volume of goods it sells overseas. That is why I applaud the free-trade agreement recently concluded between the United States and South Korea, which will eliminate barriers to U.S. exports and support export-oriented jobs. We should seek to conclude trade and investment agreements with other fast-growing markets and modernize our systems for export finance and trade control. Those who advocate increasing domestic manufacturing jobs by erecting trade barriers have it exactly wrong.

Immelt is scheduled to host President Obama on a tour of GE’s Schenectady operations this afternoon.

The White House is also letting it be known that competitiveness will be a major theme of the President’s State of the Union address next Tuesday.

Executive orders on regulations and now a council for jobs and competitiveness are good things. The President could demonstrate his support for policies to match the goals of the orders by acting quickly to submit the pending free trade agreements (Korea, Panama, Colombia) to Congress for enactment. And then rein in the EPA.

President’s Visit to GE Schenectady Highlights Energy, Manufacturing, India

By | Energy, Trade | No Comments

From the White House’s weekly schedule for President Obama, posted by Lynn Sweet of The Chicago Sun-Times:

[The] President will travel to Schenectady, New York to visit the birthplace of General Electric. The site is home to GE’s largest energy division, including steam turbines, generators, wind and solar, and the future home of GE’s advanced battery manufacturing facility. The President will tour the site with GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt and he will make remarks on the importance of growing the economy and making America more competitive by investing in jobs, innovation and clean energy. The GE plant in Schenectady is a direct beneficiary of GE’s power turbine deal with India announced during the President’s trip last November.

The President’s visit was rescheduled from last week after the shootings in Tuscon.

We’re glad to see the White House emphasize corporate involvement in India, the kind of global investment that creates wealth and jobs in the United States. From GE’s news release, Oct. 25, 2010, “GE Wins Largest Gas Turbine Combined-Cycle Order in India“:

SAMALKOT, India–25 October 2010– Reliance Power Ltd. of India has selected GE’s (NYSE: GE) flexible, efficient power generation technology for a 2,400-megawatt expansion of the Samalkot power plant in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India. This will represent the largest gas turbine combined-cycle project in India’s history and will help the country meet its continuing demand for reliable electricity to support its rapidly growing economy.

Under contracts totaling over $750 million, GE will supply six Frame 9FA gas turbines, three D-11 steam turbines, training and long-term services for the project. GE’s 9FA combined-cycle technology is proven in applications worldwide. In a combined-cycle configuration, exhaust gas from a gas turbine-generator is converted to steam, which is used to drive a steam turbine-generator, enabling the plant to produce additional power without an increase in fuel consumption. The new plant is expected to enter simple-cycle (gas turbines only) service in the first half of 2012 and combined-cycle (gas and steam turbines) in the second half of that year.

See also GE, “October Deal Tally in India Tops $1.4 Billion with Turbine Order.”

Commerce Secretary Locke on Friday announced a high-tech trade mission to India for February, with manufacturers a major presence.

Twenty-four U.S. businesses will join Commerce Secretary Gary Locke for a business development mission to India on February 6-11.  The businesses joining the trade mission are based in 13 states across the country and more than half of them are small- and medium-sized companies.

The delegation, which also includes senior officials from the Export-Import Bank (EX-IM) and the Trade Development Agency (TDA), will make stops in New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore, where Locke will highlight export opportunities for U.S. businesses in the advanced industrial sectors, of civil-nuclear trade, defense and security, civil aviation, and information and communication technologies. Locke accompanied President Obama to India in November, where they witnessed more than $10 billion in business deals between U.S. companies and Indian private sector and government entities, supporting 50,000 American jobs.

“Exports are leading the U.S. economic recovery, spurring future economic growth and creating jobs in America,” Locke said. “The business leaders joining me on this mission see the great potential to sell their goods and services to India, helping drive innovation and create jobs in both countries.”

Secretary Locke met last week with India’s ambassador to the United States, Meera Shankar.

The President Spotlighting Manufacturing at Thompson Creek Windows

By | Economy, Taxation | 2 Comments

The White House has now posted a photo (left) of President Obama’s visit to Thompson Creek Windows in Landover, Md., last Friday where he announced his new White House economic team. (That’s the company’s president, Rick Wuest, to the rear.)

The Washington Post also followed up the President’s appearance with a nice report on the manufacturer and the tax credits that have helped boost the business, which has grown from 168 employees to 289 in recent years.

Wuest credits an emphasis on customer service and the firm’s efficient production model – as well as President Obama’s stimulus plan, which had allowed homeowners to write off as much as $1,500 on their income taxes by purchasing energy-efficient windows.

Thompson Creek has offered the discount to more than 6,000 customers, Wuest said.

“Anytime you can offer a product to a homeowner and Uncle Sam will pick up 30 percent of the bill, that helps,” Wuest said. “I can’t deny that.”

And if we may toot our own NAM horn:

Wuest said he was shocked when he got a phone call three days ago from a friend at the National Association of Manufacturers, a lobbying organization, who explained that Obama’s staff wanted to examine his facility. Before long, Secret Service officers were scouting the place, and plans were in motion for the president’s visit.

“We’ve been growing through a difficult time,” Wuest said. “I have friends around the country and locally with similar businesses. They’re not all enjoying the success we have. Knock on wood.”

The President definitely appreciates the value of a visit to a manufacturing plant. He was originally scheduled to travel to Schenectady, N.Y., on Tuesday to examine GE’s battery plant and its recently dedicated Renewable Energy Global Headquarters, where CEO Jeffrey Immelt would have hosted him on the tour. After the shootings in Tucson, the White House postponed the trip, understandably so.

Dispatch from the Front: The Week of January 10

By | Briefly Legal, Dispatch from the Front, General | One Comment

The President balances a response to the Tucson shootings and a focus on foreign policy this week.  The Senate is on recess, and the House has canceled legislative business.

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama lead a moment of prayer at 11 a.m. this morning in remembrance of the victims of the Tucson shootings. He then meets with French President Sarkozy in the White House for a discussions and a working lunch. The President has postponed a planned trip to the GE plant in Schenectady and his schedule is otherwise in flux.

House leadership has cleared the week’s schedule of legislative action following the shooting rampage in Tucson that killed six and left Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) gravely injured. This was originally going to be the week during which the House would debate H.R. 2, the Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act. The House is not in session Thursday and Friday to accommodate the Republican policy retreat. Check back at the Majority Leader’s website for updates.

The Senate has adjourned until Tuesday, Jan. 25.

Jay Timmons, executive vice president of the National Association of Manufacturers, speaks Thursday at the Export-Import Bank’s launch of the Global Access for Small Business initiative. Also participating: Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, Eximbank Chairman Fred Hochberg, the SBA’s Karen Mills and Tom Donohue of the U.S. Chamber.

House Hearings: House Ways & Means holds an organizational meeting Wednesday. Also Wednesday, House Foreign Affairs Committee holds a hearing, “The United Nations: Urgent Problems that Need Congressional Action.”

Executive Branch: Defense Secretary Gates is traveling to China, Japan and South Korea through Thursday. Secretary of State Clinton makes stops in the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar this week. (Briefing) Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack speaks to the Farm Bureau in Atlanta today. Vice President Biden travels to Pakistan. The White House is also previewing Cabinet addresses in advance of China President Hu Jintao’s visit to Washington next week: On Wednesday, Treasury Geithner will delivers remarks at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), where he will discuss the U.S. economic relationship with China. Thursday, Commerce Secretary Locke addresses the U.S. – China Business Council (details). On Friday, Secretary Clinton will deliver a major address at the State Department that presents the Administration’s broad vision of U.S. – China relations in the 21st Century.

Judicial Branch: The U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments this week on cases of interest to manufacturers. Today, the case is Matrixx Initiatives, Inc., v. Saracusano, regarding securities class-action suits based on a company’s failure to disclosure non-material information. (NAM’s Manufacturing Law Center entry.) On Tuesday, the court hears two cases in tandem that could vastly expand the scope of product liability suits against foreign manufacturers in state courts on the thinnest of jurisdictional connections. The cases are J. McIntyre Machinery, Ltd. v. Nicastro (Law Center entry), and Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations v. Brown (Law Center entry).

Economic Reports: From CNBC: Wholesale trade for November is reported Tuesday, import prices for December are Wednesday and international trade for November is Thursday. The Fed’s beige book is released Wednesday afternoon.There is also inflation data, when producer prices are reported Thursday and consumer prices are reported Friday. Friday’s data also include industrial production, consumer sentiment and business inventories. See also Associated Press summary, Neil Irwin’s column in The Washington Post.

The North American International Auto Show opens in Detroit with press previews today, industry previews on Wednesday and the public show on Saturday.

Exports, Energy, IPR on Agenda of U.S.-India Business Meetings

By | Energy, intellectual property, Trade | No Comments

From the Council on Foreign Relations’ excellent Daily News Briefing last Friday:

U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to India … is expected to focus on producing jobs for the U.S. economy (WSJ) by clinching big commercial deals for U.S. companies and promoting greater access to Indian markets. The trip, which comes shortly after U.S. congressional midterm elections, may be more politically palatable than focusing on thornier geopolitical issues like India’s unease about Afghanistan and Pakistan. Amid U.S. concerns about outsourcing jobs to India, the White House hopes to stress the benefits of the two country’s growing trade partnership. More than two hundred chief executives and corporate officials will travel to Mumbai for a business summit next Saturday (EconomicTimes), the largest contingent of U.S. chief executives to accompany a president on a state visit. The total number of deals resulting from Obama’s trip could help create or sustain one hundred thousand U.S. jobs (FT), according to the U.S. India Business Council. But the United States will be challenged to strike an investment treaty with India amid U.S. corporate concerns about intellectual property abuses. India’s leftist parties said they will hold a nationwide protest (EconomicTimes) during Obama’s visit, opposing U.S. pressure on India to open its agriculture, retail trade, education, and other services to U.S. investment and multinational firms.

Energy development is a major topic on the agenda, including nuclear power and shale gas. The U.S.-India Business Council’s news release, “India Business and Entrepreneurship Summit to Feature President Obama,” has more information about the U.S. business leaders heading to Mumbia. More coverage from Indian news sources:

And there’s this from the Center for a New American Security, a think tank, “CNAS Releases Blueprint for the Future of U.S.-India Relations“:

Washington, D.C., October 18, 2010 – In advance of President Obama’s much-awaited trip to India in less than 3 weeks, the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) released today Natural Allies: A Blueprint for the Future of U.S.-India Relations, authored by former Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs R. Nicholas Burns and CNAS Senior Fellow Richard Fontaine.

Manufacturing Discussions Galore in Chicago at Reuters Event

By | Economy, Infrastructure | No Comments

Reuters wraps up its three-day Reuters Manufacturing and Transportation Summit today in Chicago. Interesting remarks abound, with a theme of recovery.

Terex looks for deals, but valuations are high: “Large equipment manufacturer Terex Corp (TEX.N) is looking to grow through acquisitions, particularly in Europe, but Chief Executive Ron DeFeo said opportunities are limited due to rich valuations.”

Navistar CEO cheered by JB Hunt buy but cautious: “(Reuters) – The top executive of Navistar International Corp (NAV.N), a U.S.-based vehicle maker, said on Tuesday he is beginning to see some signs of improvement in the hard-hit commercial truck business — though he cautioned “it’s still very tough out there.”

U.S. in ‘Nike swoosh’ recovery: Timken: “(Reuters) – The chief executive of global bearings maker Timken Co (TKR.N) feels “hopeful but cautious” about the sustainability of a U.S. economic recovery, whose shape is likely to resemble a Nike swoosh logo, CEO Jim Griffith said on Monday. ‘We believe the recovery is real,’ Griffith told the Reuters Manufacturing and Transportation Summit. ‘We believe it’s modest, and we’re running the company on the basis that there will be a slow, gradual improvement in the economy.'”

Risks rise as capex borrowing returns: PayNet CEO: “(Reuters) – Small trucking companies appear to be borrowing again to finance investment in their businesses, a sign they are gaining confidence in the economic recovery, Bill Phelan, president of PayNet, said on Monday.”

SPX CEO sees return to growth in 2011” “(Reuters) – SPX Corp (SPW.N), which is braced for a 2010 profit drop of up to 23 percent, expects to resume growth in 2011 as the aging U.S. electric grid and emerging-market recovery spurs demand for its products.”

Very impressive lineup of speakers and subjects. Congrats to Reuters.