Voicing Concerns and Finding Solutions

Government officials lead discussions about trade issues and the state of American manufacturing.

The Manufacturing and Economic Recovery Conference (MERC) was a success! More than 130 manufacturing business owners and executives attended the two-day event. In fact, there may be another one-day follow-up conference later this year.

U.S. Undersecretary of Commerce Grant Aldonas was one of the major highlights. He opened both days addressing the concerns of small to mid-size manufacturers that included the lack of funding and support available to help purchase equipment and/or expand into new areas of manufacturing that will aid global competition. In addition, he attempted to share the thoughts and feelings of President Bush, who did try to attend the conference, but was unable to rearrange his schedule.

Attendees of MERC not only asked Aldonas many questions, but they also made very bold statements to him regarding their swaying loyalty to Bush and the Republican Party. Many continued the discussion with Aldonas after the event where he spoke for nearly two more hours.

We believe that he walked away with a much better perspective of how small manufacturers not only perceive President Bush, but also of what manufacturers are going through because of the administration's poorly enacted trade policies. In addition, we asked Aldonas to carry back a message to the President: We want actions NOW—not after the election is over—that prove to us that he has not forgotten the small and mid-size manufacturers, their suppliers and all other workers adversely affected by his seeming lack of understanding of how poor free trade agreements are destroying one of our country's best assets—manufacturing.

Congressmen Donald Manzullo (R-IL) and Ron Paul (R-TX) also gave very passionate and in-depth speeches regarding the trade issues and manufacturing's importance to our economy, but interestingly, many attendees felt that the words were less than forthcoming in the way of future actions to remedy the situation. Only time will tell.

Panel discussions with legislators, economists and manufacturing business owners also went very well and shed more light on the country's overall economic condition. Again, many questions were raised and issues were discussed.

Day two of the MERC was a day of problem solving and active discussions about what some companies are doing successfully to combat free trade. In addition, some presenters offered some initiatives to bring the industry together and fight for the level playing field we've been asking for all along.

We thank everyone who attended the MERC and hope that if we have another conference later this year, more of you will come out and share your energy, your ideas and opinions with us. Please e-mail cyndi.petrucci@procomps.com if you are interested. Grant Aldonas has agreed to join us again if one is scheduled.

Thank you and buy American!

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