Politicians are out on the trail having town hall meetings, but they aren’t alone. Jay Timmons, President and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), is making appearances as well, presenting his own 2016 State of Manufacturing address.


The tour began in Manchester, N.H., on January 28, and made stops last week at Trident Technical College in Charleston, S.C., and in Illinois at Harper College’s new FMA Metal Fabrication Lab. It will continue through Florida, Pennsylvania, Texas and Maryland. Along the way, Timmons is meeting with local manufacturers, employees, students, business and community leaders and elected officials to highlight what he calls, “the real-world solutions” needed to allow the U.S. economy and manufacturers to thrive.


“Today’s modern manufacturing doesn’t always look like yesterday’s. We are sleek, high-tech and innovative, and manufacturers continue to drive economic growth in the U.S. The manufacturing industry is leading an innovation revolution that will win jobs for America, raise standards of living and restore our nation’s standing around the world,” Timmons says. “Modern manufacturing touches every aspect of our lives, and it’s the backbone of our economy. Our industry is about the men and women who make things in America; it’s about their creativity and the potential we can unleash. Now is the time to embrace a manufacturing resurgence to protect and promote American Exceptionalism.”


Manufacturing supports an estimated 18.5 million jobs in the U.S. and contributes $2.17 trillion to the economy. However, American manufacturers’ ability to compete successfully is hampered by a wide range of public policy issues that must be addressed if the U.S. is to maintain its “mantle of economic leadership,” Timmons says.


That’s why Timmons is out talking about NAM’s “Competing to Win: Manufacturers’ Agenda for Economic Growth and American Exceptionalism”—a guide for manufacturing voters and political candidates in advance of the upcoming elections. The agenda outlines the challenges manufacturers face as well as what NAM considers to be much-needed public policy solutions to address key issues. Those issues include tax; trade; energy; environment; transportation and infrastructure; labor; immigration; workforce; health care; research, innovation and technology; and regulatory and legal reform.


The intent is to give political candidates a blueprint that will “ensure the manufacturing sector continues to strengthen and positions us well for the future,” Timmons says.


“It’s encouraging to hear candidates on the campaign trail talk about manufacturing, but we want more than just talk,” Timmons says. “We must ensure the next president understands what a real manufacturing agenda looks like. Members of Congress and candidates for office need to know what policies to pursue. We want voters to see what solutions a candidate who truly supports manufacturing and is focused on growth will embrace.”


The challenge for politicians isn’t too difficult, Timmons says. He explains that members of congress have already figured out that lower taxes, more effective and balanced regulation, a modern infrastructure and stronger trade agreements all open up markets, the challenge is to move forward on these actions.


What are your thoughts on the future of manufacturing in the U.S.? Would you like to see political candidates discuss the state of manufacturing and the supply chain?