February 10, 2015

State of Manufacturing: Resilient and robust

By:   Comments: 0
Kevin Person, CEO of Wagstaff, Inc., (center right) talks with National Association of Manufacturers' President and CEO Jay Timmons (right), AWB President Kris Johnson (center left) and Greater Spokane, Inc., President Steve Stevens (left) during a Feb. 10 tour of the Wagstaff manufacturing facility in Spokane. (Photo by David Bohrer / National Assoc. of Manufacturers)

Today, the state of manufacturing is as resilient and robust as ever – and that’s why, once again, America is rising, Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), said to state lawmakers as he continued his national "State of Manufacturing" tour in Washington state Feb. 9.

When manufacturers see a problem they fix it, Timmons said, and if they can't find a solution, they create it.

It’s this optimistic vision of manufacturing that Timmons has been sharing throughout his 10-city, nationwide tour presenting the "State of Manufacturing,” highlighting the importance of manufacturing to the nation’s economy, and outlining some of the challenges facing the industry.

Timmons began the Washington state portion of his tour in Olympia on Monday with AWB President Kris Johnson. They met with Congressman Denny Heck, D-10th District, and testified before the state Senate Commerce and Labor Committee during a work session on the state of manufacturing in Washington.

Michael Senske, president/CEO of Pearson Packaging Systems, testifies Feb. 9 before the Senate Commerce & Labor Committee. Looking on are Natalie Pacholl, a training specialist for SEH America, Inc.; Kris Johnson, president of AWB; and Jay Timmons, president/CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers. (Photo: Brian Mittge/AWB)
In their testimony before the Senate (TVW video), they offered insights on the impacts manufacturing has on the state and national economy. They were joined in their testimony by Natalie Pacholl of SEH America and Michael Senske of Pearson Packaging Systems to discuss the variety and strength of Washington’s manufacturing sector.

Timmons and Johnson encouraged state and congressional leaders to continue advocating for a resolution to West Coast ports contract dispute that has caused work slowdowns since last October.

As one of the most trade-dependent states in the nation, Washington depends on a working port system to support billions in export activity and billions of dollars generated by manufacturers dependent on the import of raw materials to build their products.The port slowdown, they told committee members, is hurting employers and employees and the long-term ramifications could be loss of markets, tax collections and jobs. 

Jay Timmons, president/CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers, left, and Kris Johnson, president of the Association of Washington Business, tour Spokane Community College. (Photo by David Bohrer / National Assoc. of Manufacturers)

Tuesday morning, Timmons and Johnson toured Spokane Community College and learned about how the school is educating the next generation of technical workers

Timmons, Johnson and GSI President Steve Stevens finished with a tour of Spokane Valley Tech, an innovative high school that equips students with technical skills and experience in growing industries.

They met with high school faculty and students to discuss workforce training and development to prepare the students to fill the high-paying, high-tech jobs being created in the manufacturing industry.

Timmons closed out day’s event addressing a full room at the high school where he gave his "State of Manufacturing" address.

Jay Timmons, president/CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers, looks over operations at Wagstaff, Inc., in Spokane during his two-day swing into Washington for his State of Manufacturing tour. (Photo by David Bohrer / National Assoc. of Manufacturers)

"It’s great to be in a Washington that works! And I love being in a state like Washington and in a county like Spokane that has long been driven by manufacturing. And I love coming to schools like this – schools that look forward and are defined by their commitment to science, technology, engineering, and math," Timmons said. "Because that’s where this country is headed."

Manufacturers need a workforce trained for the new-generation economy, Timmons said.

Over the next decade, the skills gap, primarily in STEM skills, is expected to result in 2 million manufacturing jobs left unfilled, he explained.

In fact, innovative manufacturing in Washington is creating incredible new job opportunities for the next generation of workers and attracting a growing number of high-tech manufacturers to the state.

Along with the new technology, such as carbon fiber and composites manufacturing, comes a need for state leaders to focus on generating the skilled workforce necessary to fill the jobs, focusing on transportation infrastructure that moves people and goods efficiently on roads and through the port system and showing leadership on regulatory and taxation issues.

Jay Timmons, president/CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers, right, and Kris Johnson, president of the Association of Washington Business, discuss job training with students at Spokane Valley Tech. (Photo by David Bohrer / National Assoc. of Manufacturers)

The more than a quarter of a million manufacturers in the Evergreen State – including the more than 500 manufacturing businesses in Spokane – who are producing car parts and chemicals, paper and petroleum, metals, aerospace products, and so much more – are responsible for 15 percent of this state’s output, Timmons told the crowd.

Too often state and national leaders forget that before items can sit on store shelves for consumers, they must be built – manufactured – and that is a key job creator in the nation.

Efforts by the governor and lawmakers to tax manufacturers as part of an untested environmental policy could erode the manufacturing sector in the state, Timmons said.

Employers are already doing their part, he added.

Jay Timmons, president/CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers, gives his "State of Manufacturing" address to a full house at Spokane Valley Tech (Photo by David Bohrer / National Assoc. of Manufacturers)
Timmons told attendees, "We’re making our products and the places where they’re made more energy efficient. We’re leading the way on recycling and reducing waste. And we’ll continue developing sustainable solutions that power our economy and create jobs in America.”

Association of Washington Business and Greater Spokane Incorporated partnered with NAM to coordinate the visit. AWB is the state’s official manufacturing association, representing 2,000 of the state’s 7,000 manufacturers.

To learn more about the State of Manufacturing tour, visit www.nam.org.

The joint AWB/NAM Senate testimony is on TVW here: