Amidst the release of national unemployment figures for September, the update of trade deficit numbers for the third quarter, and the end of the third-longest government shutdown in U.S. history, the American Manufacturing Strategies Summit (AMSS) took place in Schaumburg, Illinois, this week.
As the chairman of the event, I was privy to conversations with a batch of some of the smartest people in manufacturing, along with presentations by individuals willing to share the secrets of their successes.
Congressman Adam Kinzinger, U.S. Representative (R-Illinois), led off the proceedings with a home run. Kinzinger represents the 16th congressional district, where I live, so I was especially excited to hear him speak. Following the events of Sept. 11, 2001, he joined the U.S. Air Force and earned the Air Medal six times, serving in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. He still serves as a pilot in the Air National Guard while a member of Congress. In addition to serving on the Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Kinzinger is Republican Deputy Whip.
"It feels like America is being ripped apart at the seams," he offered in his keynote address of AMSS attendees. "Both parties have been dragged to extremes. MSNBC and Fox News have provided a channel for each extreme where people can go to hear what they want to hear."
While the government shutdown may have created some trepidation among businesses in light of tepid trade and employment numbers, Kinzinger isn't worried at all. "I don't think other countries will surpass us," he said. "When you shut down the federal government, you create a sense of uncertainty in business. But when we come to Jan. 15, we will not have another government shutdown."
|Mike Bacidore is chief editor of Plant Services and has been an integral part of the Putman Media editorial team since 2007, when he was managing editor of Control Design magazine. Previously, he was editorial director at Hughes Communications and a portfolio manager of the human resources and labor law areas at Wolters Kluwer. Bacidore holds a BA from the University of Illinois and an MBA from Lake Forest Graduate School of Management. He is an award-winning columnist, earning a Gold Regional Award and a Silver National Award from the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He may be reached at 630-467-1300 ext. 444 or firstname.lastname@example.org or check out his Google+ profile.|
America's ace in the hole is its newfound energy wealth, explained Kinzinger. "The other great thing this country has going for it is a massive energy revolution," he said. "We have more energy and oil in this country than we know what to do with. We now find ourselves with the quandary of whether we're going to export natural gas. If we can export excess natural gas, not only will that be good for our economy, but this would be great to be able to offset the power the Russians have in places like the Middle East and Turkey. It would be nice if Eastern Europe had an alternative from the United States."
And how does energy translate to manufacturing? "We're beginning to see a renaissance in American manufacturing," explained Kinzinger. "We have very intense energy in my district. We have four nuclear power plants. We also have intense manufacturing. In World War II, we built ships. Rockford has seen a revitalization. It's become an aerospace hub for the country. We are still the leading manufacturing producer of globally manufactured products. We lead as the manufacturing revival takes place."
Investment is important moving forward, he said. "One big area that entails is education," proclaimed Kinzinger. "If you can take a kid in high school to a manufacturing facility to see what actually happens there, that creates an interest."
Kinzinger also spoke about the Manufacturing Reinvestment Account Act, a bill he introduced with Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-Connecticut). "A manufacturing reinvestment account would allow manufacturers to invest pretax dollars in equipment and training," he explained. "These are the kind of ideas that we need." If a manufacturer contributed $500,000 annually and the account earned 5% interest, with a 15% tax rate on amounts distributed from the MRA, after seven years the manufacturer would have approximately $3.6 million to reinvest, explained Kinzinger. "That's about a million more than what the business would have earned on the same amount invested in a taxable account."
Stay tuned for more from the American Manufacturing Strategies Summit. This is just the beginning.