in the economy, explained Timmons.
Some of the politicians who like to
widen the divisive aisle like to talk about
a manufacturing renaissance. True, they
understand that manufacturing is critical
to economic growth and vitality, and that
the sector creates jobs. But do they re-
ally get it?
“We’re only on the verge,” responded
Timmons, when asked at the event.
Another question he addressed: “What
game-changing points are happening
that you see matter?”
Timmons answered, “First, I think that
you have to understand that the founda-
tion issue is the 20-percent issue, which
means it is more expensive to manufac-
ture in the United States than anywhere
else in the world. Also, take into consid-
eration the cost of labor.”
In other words, self-imposed policies –
some, not all – increase costs.
The Need: Address the Root Problem
The dialogue about 21st century US man-
ufacturing involves costs related to infra-
structure, immigration reform, and the
skills gap – obviously important issues.
But Timmons believes that these don’t
get to the root problem: the 20-percent
cost disadvantage that involves regula-
tion, taxes and energy policy. Such is-
sues, Timmons indicates, should be easy
to get right. The 20-percent disadvantage
could be turned around to an advantage,
with regulation and energy policy becom-
ing equally easy. “Regulation and energy
policy are the things that should be easy
to get right,” said Timmons. “Congress
and administration should be out front.”
For sure, Timmons – and NAM – doesn’t
make a blanket condemnation of gov-
ernment and its regulations. “Not all reg-
ulation is bad; no one in the business
community will say that,” he observed.
Indeed, regulation is necessary in
many cases; but what the manufacturing
industry needs from government is con-
12 INDUSTRY TODAY
FOCUS
MANUFACTURING
sistency. In turn, manufacturing leaders
can’t be passive sideliners. They must
participate, with their helmets on, de-
scribing needs. “Manufacturing leaders
must be present when regulations are
discussed,” said Timmons.
Around the Table
Such discussion goes round and round,
but it always comes back to these ques-
tions: Is manufacturing coming back?
What’s manufacturing’s next step?
At a business roundtable held at the
same event, John Engler, former governor
of Michigan (and, in the past, another In-
dustry Today contributor), offered these
observations: “[Traditionally, in the United
States] states have competed against
states. But what has happened in the 21st
century, with its global economy, is that
nations compete against nations. States
still compete against states, but now in
the room, you’ll find nations that offer in-
ducements. It would be great to make
everything here and ship it all over the
INDUSTRY TODAY 13
FOCUS
MANUFACTURING
The energy sector has a leading role to
play In the manufacturing renaissance -
John Engler;
below: John Engler, former Governor of
Michigan.
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