Manufacturing in the U.S. is advancing, but to grow it needs more workers—including via immigration. That’s why immigration reform is one of the NAM’s key policy priorities to boost the industry’s competitiveness, as NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons told the Minnesota Manufacturers’ Summit yesterday in Minneapolis. The event was hosted by the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce.
- This week, the NAM released an updated version of its immigration policy blueprint “A Way Forward,” which Timmons highlighted in his speech.
What our immigration system needs: “Despite all the overheated rhetoric, one thing we can agree on is this: the United States has a broken and unreliable immigration system—and it is harming manufacturers’ competitiveness,” said Timmons.
- He cited the need for more employment-based H-1B visas; more temporary H-2B visas; more programs for foreign-born U.S. students in STEM fields; a new visa category to address temporary economic needs in the U.S.; and protection for Dreamers along with a pathway to legal status for unauthorized U.S. residents.
Other priorities: Timmons also covered other key manufacturing priorities, including energy policy fixes.
- “Congress can deliver sustainable permitting improvements that can fast-track critical infrastructure projects and speed up the construction of new manufacturing facilities,” he said.
- “The situation in Europe and the actions of OPEC show us this isn’t just an issue of economic competitiveness. It’s also an issue of national security.”
Reducing the burden: “Policymakers can also help by streamlining regulatory policy in general,” Timmons added. “The annual regulatory cost burden for an average U.S. firm represents 21% of its payroll.”
- “Manufacturers support smart, sensible regulation to protect our health, our workplaces and the environment. But the more time and resources manufacturers spend on their compliance burden every year, the less we can spend solving our greatest challenges.”
The bottom line: “Whether it’s permitting reform or immigration reform, building on tax reform or advancing workforce solutions, manufacturers are positioned to lead,” said Timmons. “So, our role is to be true to the values that have made America exceptional and kept manufacturing strong: free enterprise, competitiveness, individual liberty and equal opportunity.”
Further reading: Timmons has been hitting the road this week to promote manufacturers’ priorities to leaders across the country. If you missed it, catch up on his earlier speech in Phoenix, Arizona.