VOA Feature: Why Politicians Need to Help American Manufacturers

November 4, 2016 | American Manufacturing, News, Publications & Events

Marlin Steel provided a quick interview for the Voice of America's video on small businesses.On Tuesday, November 8, millions of Americans will cast their vote for who they want to see guide this country for the next four years. No matter who wins, that candidate will have their work cut out for them.

However, there’s a problem with both candidates, and with Capitol Hill in general. There’s a lack of attention to the needs of small businesses—particularly small business manufacturers in America.

The Problem

In a recent Voice of America (VOA) interview, Marlin Steel CEO Drew Greenblatt spoke out about the need for politicians to address the current gaps in America’s foreign trade deals and the mountains of red tape strangling manufacturers: “the current politicians are not speaking about growing markets for factories in America so we can sell more. We need a spark to get growth going again to lift our country up. Right now, we’re not getting it.”

Our trade agreements aren’t doing enough to protect small businesses from unfair foreign competition. One example of this was when government-subsidized Chinese manufacturers flooded the market with steel bagel baskets that cost less than the steel needed to make them. This event nearly forced Marlin Steel to close its doors back when the company was focused on making steel bagel baskets.

Also, the sheer amount of redundant red tape being forced on small business manufacturers is killing their ability to grow, adapt, and be efficient. As Mike McCutcheon of McCutcheon’s Apple Products states in the first half of the video: “to a point, you just spend a lot of time just satisfying regulations and paperwork, and not really getting anything produced.”

Why it Needs to Be Fixed

The average American probably thinks of manufacturing companies as these big, monolithic entities. But the truth is that most manufacturing companies—the ones that supply the majority of the jobs to American workers—are small businesses.

As noted in statistics cited by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), “in 2014, there were 251,901 firms in the manufacturing sector, with all but 3,749 firms considered to be small (i.e. having fewer than 500 employees). In fact, three-quarters of these firms have fewer than 20 employees.”

Not every manufacturer has the legions of lawyers and the budget needed to stay current with every single regulation ever conceived. And, these regulations become a massive barrier to entry in the industry, as new entrepreneurs find meeting all the requirements too time-consuming and expensive to make a manufacturing business worth investing in.

This is the real shame, because it’s manufacturing jobs that excel at growing the middle class by providing stable employment that pays a living wage (over $80,000 annually on average). Removing barriers to growth would allow small business manufacturers like McCutcheon’s and Marlin Steel to grow and hire more people.

Manufacturers and manufacturing advocacy groups need to work hard to make sure that politicians hear how small business manufacturers positively impact the American economy, and that the rights of manufacturers and manufacturing workers are protected from unfair trade agreements as well as overly oppressive, redundant, or contradictory regulatory standards.

Join the Manufacturing Revolution today and make sure your voice is heard!

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