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October 25, 2012

Manufacturing Executives Want to Make the U.S. More Competitive

October 25, 2012

For more information:
Jonathan Kalkwarf, vice president, finance and administration, 847-485-3007
Ashley DeVecht, director of communication, 847-485-3011 or 616-260-2785

Manufacturing Executives Want to Make the U.S. More Competitive

Buffalo, N.Y.–On Monday the Buffalo chapter of the Metals Service Center Institute (MSCI) held its 2012 Manufacturing Summit Closing the Divide Between Jobs, Policy and Growth. The event, which was attended by 125 members and their customers, was moderated by MSCI President and CEO M. Robert Weidner, III, and hosted by Chapter President Todd Zyra, CEO of Klein Steel Service, Inc.

The event took place at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, N.Y. Panelists included: John Batiste, president and CEO of Klein Steel Service, Inc.; Gary Keith, vice president and regional economist, M&T Bank; Brian Sampson, executive director of Unshackle Upstate; and Michael Stumo, CEO for the Coalition for a Prosperous America. Also attending were Maggie Brooks, Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives, New York’s 25th District; Maureen Duggan, Director of Economic Development for U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY 25th District); Chris Collins, Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives, New York’s 27th District; and Dennis O’ Brien, a representative of U.S. Rep. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat representing New York’s 26th District (due to redistricting, she is running for the 27th Congressional district).

The summit was an opportunity for national and local manufacturing leaders, policy experts, employees and political candidates to discuss the most pressing issues facing the manufacturing and metal services sectors.

According to a study by MSCI, the metals industry has a direct impact on more than 500,000 jobs. While concerns about outsourcing and moving jobs overseas have dominated the news, manufacturing is actually one of the bright spots of the current economy. Manufacturing accounts for 11.7% of the U.S. GDP, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. However, significant challenges remain, including the rising cost of health care and the increasing costs the federal government has imposed on businesses.

Questions for the panel centered around MSCI's policy agenda, which includes positions on energy, trade, tax and regulation. During the discussions, panelists highlighted the importance of strong leadership and decisive action to support the growth we're beginning to see in the manufacturing industry.

When asked about the consequences of the fiscal cliff, Keith stated, “The economy simply is not strong enough right now to withstand some of the things that would be thrown at it. Does that mean we can't get our defense spending at a certain level? Does that mean we can't get our debt level at a certain level? We have to have those discussions. But we also have to make sure that we do it at the appropriate time in the appropriate fashion.”

Batiste noted that a divided government requires strong presidential leadership for change to occur. “It's going to take someone with extraordinary leadership skills to bring together opposing views, to find common ground and do what's right for our country,” said Batiste.

Sampson called for a clear strategy for affordable energy. “The U.S. doesn't have a very clear energy policy. We haven't looked at what New York and the federal government should do relative to energy. How do we extract the natural gas reserves we have here?” said Sampson. “We can take that natural gas; we can convert some of our older coal-fired plants to natural gas. By turning them to natural gas, it will also lower the cost of energy, which should then allow us to compete and bring jobs back.”

Stumo noted that an element of making U.S. manufacturing more competitive on a global scale is to hold China accountable to their currency manipulation. “Currency manipulation is a subsidy for Chinese exports here,” he said. “It's a tariff on our exports going there. Their currency is 30-40% undervalued. If you rebalance it, it means your goods are 35% cheaper going to China. Their goods coming here are 35% more expensive, which is closer to fair market value.”

Monday's summit was the 10th of 11 being held across the country this year, of which Los Angeles is the only remaining host city. MSCI hosts these events every election cycle, following an initial set of town hall meetings in 2004 and 2005. The program was expanded this year to more forcefully address the continued economic uncertainty many manufacturers and American industries face and to provide the leadership necessary to find workable solutions.

“Throughout these 10 events, the overriding purpose has been to educate and inform our members, our members suppliers, our members customers, elected officials and individuals running for office on the issues affecting manufacturers–and in particular the metals supply chain–in support of a healthy and vibrant manufacturing economy,” said Weidner. “This year is a critical election year, at a time when manufacturing could play a very pivotal role in getting the nation back on track.”

ABOUT MSCI

Founded in 1909, the Metals Service Center Institute, based in Rolling Meadows, Ill., has more than 400 members operating from more than 1,500 locations in the United States, Canada, Mexico and throughout the world. Together MSCI members constitute the largest single group of metals purchasers in North America, amounting each year to more than 55 million tons of steel, aluminum and other metals, with about 300,000 manufacturers and fabricators as customers. MSCI's membership also includes almost all ferrous and non-ferrous industrial metals producers in North America. Service centers inventory, process and distribute metals to manufacturing intermediaries and original equipment manufacturers.

For more information, visit www.MSCI.org. Like us on Facebook at Metals Service Center Institute, follow us on Twitter @MSCITweets, and connect with us on LinkedIn at Metals Service Center Institute.