Equipment manufacturers envision national manufacturing agenda

To further an objective highlighted during ConExpo-Con/Agg 2020 earlier this year, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) has called on the federal government to develop a comprehensive national strategy for manufacturing to strengthen the economy, create new jobs and opportunities, and ensure the United States is the best place in the world for on- and off-road machinery interests to innovate, assemble, and do business.

The AEM-proposed National Manufacturing Strategy dovetails a 20-state, July-October tour of the Manufacturing Express bus. The association staged the vehicle prominently during ConExpo-Con/Agg.

Manufacturing Express augments a salute to domestic production that Terex Corp. and other AEM members have carried under the I Make America banner. Terex Advance arrived at the Las Vegas Convention Center in March with the latest concrete ware it makes in Indiana: A new cab for the four-axle FD4000 mixer.

“The federal government should take strong and immediate action to support equipment manufacturers, protect the 2.8 million jobs they support, and guarantee the viability of an industry that is essential to the economic and national security of our country as well as our way of life,” says AEM President Dennis Slater. “Between rising manufacturing costs and the industry’s growing skills gap, not to mention the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on communities across the country, it is imperative that our elected officials mobilize the full force of the federal government in support of the country’s manufacturing sector.”

To confront both the short- and long-term challenges facing the equipment manufacturing industry, AEM urges Congress and the Trump administration to back measures that revitalize America’s manufacturing sector and ensure the country remains the global manufacturing superpower. Specifically, it asks lawmakers and the White House to consider:

  • Creation of a national institute that would serve as a hub for all federal manufacturing programs in the executive branch and coordinate federal manufacturing policy across agencies;
  • Establishment of a Chief Manufacturing Officer reporting directly to the President and responsible for developing and carrying out the national manufacturing strategy; and,
  • Formation of a National Manufacturing Council to provide non-partisan advice to the President on how to strengthen the manufacturing sector and ensure future U.S. competitiveness in the global economy.

There are presently 58 manufacturing-related programs across nearly a dozen federal agencies, which makes it needlessly difficult and expensive to carry out their missions and impossible to estimate total federal investment in manufacturing, AEM contends. A coordinated national effort, including the new national institute, along with the Chief Manufacturing Officer and the National Manufacturing Council, would significantly raise the profile of manufacturing in the federal government, increase efficiencies and collaboration across existing federal programs, reduce wasteful spending, and improve the ability and accountability of the federal government to respond to rapid changes in the global manufacturing landscape.

“It is imperative our elected officials recognize that a strong equipment manufacturing industry is key to the future prosperity and long-term competitiveness of the United States,” notes AEM Chairman and Reed International CEO Jeff Reed. “A comprehensive national strategy for manufacturing would not only eliminate redundancies and improve efficiencies across the federal government, but would focus all efforts on one single objective: the future of manufacturing in this country.”

A legislative proposal by Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) would achieve the objectives of a national strategy for manufacturing. AEM is working with him to ensure the legislation utilizes current program funding and personnel to dramatically improve efficiencies and reduce redundancies in existing federal manufacturing programs, reduces onerous and ineffective regulations, and attracts broad bipartisan support.

The association is encouraging peer trade and business groups to join in working with the federal government to advance a national strategy for manufacturing. AEM’s initial recommendations are meant to be a starting point for a broader dialogue about how to ensure the country’s global leadership in manufacturing plus long-term economic and national security.