These Days, It's Hip to Hang with ManufacturersApril 1, 2012
Until recently, what did U.S. manufacturers have in common with these National Football League teams—the Pittsburgh Steelers, Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, New York Giants, Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers?
None of those teams have cheerleaders, and neither did U.S. manufacturing companies, until President Obama’s 2008 embrace of the American automotive industry as “the heartbeat of American manufacturing.” Suddenly, as General Motors and Chrysler sat on the edge of destruction, our president appointed himself head cheerleader for our country’s giant team of manufacturers. And ever since, that cheerleading squad has gained members left and right (pun intended).
The cheering grew wildly a few months ago during the president’s January 2012 State of the Union address, as he used the word “manufacturers” or “manufacturing” over and over again—a total of 16 times. Listening in, the cheers certainly got my adrenaline pumping. That speech’s manufacturing-heavy tone came on the heels of a year (2011) in which Congress introduced more than 700 bills and amendments mentioning manufacturing, according to the PMA/NTMA One Voice advocacy team.
Manufacturing—finally—is hip. President Obama (as well as those that seek to run against him in a few months) has been spending quite a lot of time in recent months hanging out in manufacturing plants, to get an up-close look at what it’s like to toil on a shop floor. Fully aware that we’re witnessing election-year pitching at its finest, it’s nonetheless refreshing to see our president front and center singing the praises of manufacturing as the nation’s primary economic engine.
Cheerleaders strive to encourage the team and its players to fight hard, and to fight together. They incite the crowd to make noise, and they get the adrenaline pumping. Of course, our nation’s policymakers are more than just cheerleaders. The policies they create, debate and enact affect the rules of the game, provide much of the resources needed to take the field each and every day, and supply the nourishment needed to sustain our efforts.
The president’s latest cheerleading was heard a few weeks ago by the workers making precision jet-engine parts at the state-of-the-art Rolls-Royce plant in Petersburg, VA. Obama told Rolls-Royce employees that, “for generations of Americans, manufacturing has been the ticket into the middle class.”This, of course, is a fact the players in the manufacturing game have known for a long time. But it sure is nice to finally have some cheerleaders. Let’s take advantage, while we have them on our sidelines. Manufacturers everywhere should invite their local members of Congress and political candidates to visit their facilities, not only so you can educate them about your business and make them explain their manufacturing policy to you, but to allow them to cheer on the efforts of your hard-working employees. They’ll get the blood pumping, and encourage your team to continue the fight.
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