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Path Open to Creation of New Manufacturing Jobs

During his presidential campaign, President Trump championed domestic job growth with a focus on slashing red tape and investing in our nation’s infrastructure. Manufacturers were hopeful, but wondered if the campaign promises would amount to more than political rhetoric.

Thankfully, President Trump is following through with his promises. The president’s laser-like focus on manufacturing is evident. He has already acted to eliminate some of the most burdensome regulations on manufacturers and made important appointments at key federal agencies. In addition, President Trump is listening to and consulting with manufacturers to find solutions to our biggest challenges so we can create more jobs.

As a result, manufacturers’ level of optimism is at an all-time high. The National Association of Manufacturers’ (NAM) recent Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey showed that more than 93 percent of manufacturers feel positive about their economic outlook –up from 56.6 percent one year ago. However, there is still plenty of work to do. That optimism stems from our belief that more positive change is on the way.

Recently, on March 31, I had the opportunity to meet with President Trump at the White House, along with several other leaders of small manufacturing companies. We had an open discussion on the most pressing issues, including the need for regulatory reform, investments in our nation’s crumbling infrastructure and business tax reform.

In recent years, manufacturers have been saddled with overwhelming regulations on everything from energy to health care to workplace restrictions. Certainly, some regulations are vital to our health and well-being. But too many rules are arcane and no longer make sense, while others are overlapping and redundant. Small and mid-sized businesses don’t have the time or money to make sense of all these regulations, let alone comply with all of them.

According to a recent NAM study, manufacturers face 297,696 restrictions on our operations from federal rules and regulations. For the average small manufacturer, regulation costs almost $35,000 per employee per year. This is money that could be spent to expand operations, hire new employees or invest in research and development.

Jobs and growth are also threatened by our crumbling infrastructure. The country could lose 2.5 million jobs by 2025 if we don’t change this soon. The United States ranks 16th in the world for overall infrastructure quality. That’s embarrassing, and a threat to our competitiveness. Significant investment is overdue — in transportation infrastructure, as well as energy and communications infrastructure.

Finally, comprehensive tax reform that lowers rates for businesses of all sizes is also critical to the wellbeing of manufacturers. Our current tax code is outdated and includes the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world. How are companies in the United States supposed to compete against businesses in countries with more attractive tax codes –that make it easier to invest in their employees?

Right now, we have the chance of a lifetime with an administration who is hungry for change and is open to listening and working with manufacturers. Manufacturers contributed $2.17 trillion to the U.S. economy in 2015, providing good careers to more than 12 million manufacturing workers in the United States. Imagine what would happen if manufacturers were able to fully flourish, free from bureaucratic red tape. It’s time for all of our leaders to come together to create a business environment that allows manufacturers to do what they do best: grow our economy and create jobs.

Eddy is president and chief executive officer of Eagle Manufacturing Co. in Wellsburg.

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