2015 State of Manufacturing
On Friday, February 6th, we went to the City Club for a program titled "2015 State of Manufacturing" featuring Mr. Jay Timmons who is president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) which, according to Wikipedia, is an advocacy group representing 11,000 manufacturing companies of all sizes in every industrial sector in all 50 states. Thus it is the largest manufacturing and industrial trade association in the United States. Mr. Timmons spoke about how manufacturing has played a vital role in our nation's history by rebuilding the country after the civil war, helping us get through the great depression, making us able to fight World War II and providing the foundation for the middle class in its aftermath. During the "great recession" it looked like U.S. manufacturing was dying but it came back and is "resilient and robust as ever."
Mr. Timmons went on to make a strong case that manufacturing is now overburdened by government regulation and taxes which has enabled other countries to challenge us. He called for our public officials to work together in a bipartisan fashion to address these problems.
He also said that one of the things that definitely needs to occur is immigration reform which he said was a "reality" and urged the attendees to keep in mind that "we are talking about people's lives." He said that immigration reform is necessary if we want to retain an innovative workforce. Moreover, he believed that "it was the right thing to do."
We asked him to expand upon this during the Q and A and he gladly complied. He said that 2/3 of the Fortune 500 companies were either started by an immigrant or a child of an immigrant. He said that what is going on right now is a "crisis" and our current system is "broken." Mr. Timmons reminded everyone that we are a nation of immigrants. True, some have come here "not above board" but, nevertheless, they made the decision to come here because the United States is "the beacon of the world" in terms of its values and they "respect our democratic principles."
Specifically, he said that we need more H1B visas and our guest worker program needs to be re-thought because the practicality of bringing someone here and sending them back is questionable. He also cited the need for border protection and contended that there needs to be a better verification system for employers. He concluded by saying that there needs to be a pathway to citizenship particularly for those who want to be a productive part of the economy.
Interestingly, on this day we got to meet Dr. Hiroyuki Fujita, Ph.D. who is the president and CEO of Quality Electrodynamics which is a medium-sized global developer, manufacturer, and supplier of advanced medical equipment electronics located in Mayfield Village. Dr. Fujita immigrated to the United States from Japan and Ms. Margaret W. Wong helped him obtain his citizenship about three years ago. We say that Dr. Fujita is definitely a "productive part of the economy" and we are glad that we were able to help him.