October 9, 2003

Full House at MSCI South Atlantic Chapter Town Hall Meeting on Manufacturing’s Decline

October 09, 2003

Full House at MSCI South Atlantic Chapter Town Hall Meeting on Manufacturing’s Decline

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina, October 9, 2003 – A series of speakers, including two members of Congress, called for vigorous enforcement of fair trade laws and agreements and denounced currency manipulation at a Town Hall Meeting on Manufacturing sponsored by the South Atlantic Chapter of the Metals Service Center Institute (MSCI).

The meeting, one of a series organized by MSCI chapters nationwide, was called to discuss the decline of North American manufacturing, causes of the decline and steps to take to support the manufacturing base that has survived.  Speaker after speaker, including three regional business leaders, said pressure must be maintained to persuade the Bush administration and Congress to make improved manufacturing and trade policies an urgent priority.  About 130 people attended.

”Enforcement of existing trade agreements is extremely important,” said U.S. Representative Sue Myrick, a North Carolina Republican. “I urge you all to work together to educate the public and your elected officials of the crisis manufacturing is in.”

“This is not a partisan issue,” said U.S. Representative Melvin Watt, a North Carolina Democrat.  “All politics begin locally. We’ve got to work together to solve the problem and we’ve got to get attention to this issue.  The United States has the authority to do something about violations in trade policies, and it’s up to the people to demand something be done.”

Business speakers included Daniel  R. DiMicco, vice chairman, president and chief executive officer of Charlotte-based Nucor Corporation; William Hickey, president of Lapham-Hickey Steel, Chicago, and Nicholas Tolerico, president of ThyssenKrupp Steel Services, Richburg, South Caroline.

“For the first time in our history, we have more people working in retail than in manufacturing,” said DiMicco.  “Trade distortions have led to the loss of high-paying manufacturing jobs for minimum-wage retail jobs.  For every manufacturing job lost, a community actually loses three to four times the money that can come back into the local economy.”

“This is economic warfare, and anyone who doesn’t believe it is naïve,” said Hickey.  “I’m frustrated by the lack of policy makers in Washington who care about manufacturing.” Hickey called for all participants to contact their local elected officials and express their concern.

Tolerico added, “You have to get to know your local representatives.  Lobby for currency stability.  We need to band together on a few issues, such as currency stability and enforcement of fair trade practices, to be effective in changing the direction that manufacturing is going.”

Program moderator M. Robert Weidner, III, president and chief executive officer of MSCI, the Chicago-based trade association for the metals service center industry, called on participants to set aside competitive disagreements to unite behind a program to raise awareness of the need to support manufacturing as a vital element of the economy.  .

“We are really in a crisis stage,” said Weidner.  “Some 2.7 million jobs have been lost.  At this point, we cannot allow our differences to dilute our message.  We’re all part of the manufacturing food chain.  All currencies need to trade freely and openly on the global foreign exchange markets with no government intervention to distort market forces.”

The Town Hall meeting in Charlotte was one of a series sponsored by MSCI chapters this year.  A similar meeting, sponsored by the Mid-South Chapter, will be held in Atlanta on October 16, and another, sponsored by the Southern California Chapter, will be held in Industry Hills, California, on October 21.   The Northern Ohio Chapter has scheduled a Town Hall Meeting on Manufacturing for December 2.

Founded in 1907, the Metals Service Center Institute has more than 350 members operating from about 1,200 locations in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and elsewhere around the world. Together, MSCI members constitute the largest single group of metals purchasers in North America, amounting each year to more than 50 million tons of steel, aluminum and other metals, with about 300,000 manufacturers and fabricators as customers. Metals service centers distribute metals and provide first-stage fabrication services.

Contact:   Jon Kalkwarf, 773-867-1300 x105, or Kevin Richardson, 704-948-8476