Manufacture This

The blog of the Alliance for American Manufacturing

Sees a clear benefit to Buy America, too!

This week I had the pleasure of attending a forum on U.S. rail infrastructure hosted by the House Manufacturing Caucus and the OneRail Coalition, where a panel of representatives from across the rail industry promoted the advancement and modernization of railroads in the United States.

Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), cofounder of the Senate Competitiveness Caucus, spoke at the forum and said infrastructure investment would be a key contributor to the global competitiveness of the United States.  

Agreed! And with the use of Buy America legislation, we can maximize the benefit of such an investment into the American economy.

Scott Sherin, a vice president at AlstomUSA, believes Buy America is the “winning formula” because it combines global expertise and local presence to complete the job. He said relying on domestic manufacturing encourages Alstom and other companies to tap into the domestic supply chain. Alstom, for instance, has over 350 suppliers in more than 35 states, while Siemens has suppliers in roughly 23 states.

An investment in infrastructure preserves jobs and domestic technical expertise, resulting in even more local economic and industrial innovation. That’s how companies like GE see it. With over 100,000 employees across the country – and more than 180 manufacturing facilities – GE would greatly benefit from more business stateside.

The rail industry is facing internal issues too, like where the next generation of highly skilled workers will come from. Companies have begun to tap into college and trade-school students to maintain these positions. As the technical advancement of this industry increases, the appeal of locomotives may increase too, making this an area of employment more millennials might consider.

Another difficulty the industry faces, suggested Sherin, was a preoccupation with the future. He believes there’s too much distraction on upcoming technologies, and not enough on the advancement of the system we have. That’s where an infrastructure bill comes in.

Ultimately, what I learned from the forum was the importance of the rail network we have in place – and how the investment in infrastructure maintenance would create a lot of opportunities for American manufacturing to come out on top.

And with infrastructure still (maybe?) a high priority for the Trump administration, the right legislation can take our infrastructure network into the 21st century.