AAM's Delaware Town Hall Asks: "How do we rebuild U.S. manufacturing?"
Posted by scapozzola on 06/30/2010
A guest column from AAM Field Coordinator Mark Musho... Delaware, “ The First State” (or “The Small Wonder”), is for some a shore vacation alternative to South Jersey or Ocean City, Maryland. For others it is a stretch along the I-95 corridor between Philadelphia and Washington DC, where the speed limit drops down to 55 mph. And if you’re ticketed for speeding, the State Trooper in an unmarked vehicle could be driving anything from a minivan to a tricked-out Camaro. But is also a state where the manufacturing sector has experienced a dramatic decline over the past six years. Companies that were at one time recognized as the backbone of the Delaware economy such as Chrysler and General Motors have closed their doors and laid off thousands of Delaware workers. Delaware has lost over 4,300 manufacturing jobs from 2008-2009, and over 6,800 manufacturing jobs from 2003 through 2009. That is why approximately 200 attendees from business, labor, state and local government met last night at a “Keep It Made in America “Town Hall meeting. The event held in Newark attracted a cross section of concerned Delawareans who listened to a panel discussion on the present state of manufacturing and what the future may hold. Scott Paul, Executive Director for the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) moderated the panel which consisted of: Sam Letham AFL-CIO Delaware State President; Alan Levin, Director of Delaware Economic Development; Jim Wolfe, President and CEO of the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce; and, Deborah Armstrong, United Way. The panel addressed the question of what is needed in Delaware from different viewpoints, but the central theme was the same, JOBS. Sam Letham put it in more definite terms when he said “What we need in Delaware and the rest of this country is a true manufacturing strategy.” He's right. To sit and discuss what once was and what the future might hold in manufacturing is all well and good but what is really needed is a plan. This thought was echoed by many in the audience. Mike Cadwell said, “We need a process that lays out step by step how we get from point A to B and get both Federal and State governments to support and implement it...We have the manpower right here in this room to get that started in Delaware." As I drove back up I-95 to Philadelphia, I couldn’t help but wonder if Delaware, “The First State,” was going to lead the way once again and start the process of putting together a manufacturing strategy that would one day bring back good paying manufacturing jobs to the state. I also was wondering if the Ford Pinto I just flew past had a State Trooper in it.
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