Manufacturers: Help us out!


By Brad Kane


Seizing upon the pro-business aspects of President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech on Jan. 25, manufacturers in Connecticut and across the country have renewed their call for a national manufacturing strategy.

Immediately after Obama spoke words of innovation, a global marketplace and economic recovery, The National Association of Manufacturers released its "Manufacturing Strategy For Jobs and a Competitive America" to perhaps swing sentiment toward their issues of decreased government intervention and increased government support.

"To unleash the power of innovation, we cannot continue to place costly, unnecessary burdens on businesses and put them on an uneven playing field with our global competitors," said Jay Timmons, association president and CEO. "This stifles job creation and economic growth."

The strategy calls on help making the U.S. the best place to headquarter a business, to perform research and development, and manufacture goods to export internationally.

With Connecticut's high energy and labor costs and its unstable tax system, manufacturers tend to stay away, said Gerry Mastropietro, president of the Smaller Manufacturers Association of Connecticut Inc. Connecticut's main attraction is its location to service the rest of the Northeast, he said, and the state government only messes that up by sending companies to nearby states.

"My main concern is that someone can make something cheaper immediately outsideConnecticut," Mastropietro said.

The National Association of Manufacturing strategy calls on the reduction of the corporate tax rate to 25 percent; a friendly regulatory environment; limits to lawsuit awards; bigger R&D tax credits; better defense of intellectual property; and more visas for legal immigrants to work in the U.S.

The association estimates manufacturing produces $1.6 trillion in value each year, making American the world's largest manufacturing economy. In Connecticut, manufacturing produces $58 billion in value each year.

"There's certainly a need for a national manufacturing strategy, but it needs to be carried through," Mastropietro said.