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January 15, 2004

MSCI Mid-America Chapter Plans February 17 Town Hall Meeting on Manufacturing at the Business & Technology College of Kansas City

January 15, 2004

MSCI Mid-America Chapter Plans February 17 Town Hall Meeting on Manufacturing at the Business & Technology College of Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Missouri, January 15, 2004 – The chief executive officer of one of the nation’s largest metals distribution companies and senior executives from additional manufacturing and metals concerns will be the primary speakers at a February 17 Town Hall Meeting on Manufacturing sponsored the Mid-America Chapter of the Metals Service Center Institute (MSCI).

The meeting, the sixth in a nationwide series organized by MSCI to support North American manufacturing, will be held at the Business & Technology College of Kansas City, 1775 Universal Avenue, with a 5:30 p.m. dinner followed by the 7 p.m. Town Hall Meeting.

“Our focus will be on significant, negative trends that have begun to hollow out the manufacturing base of the U.S. and Canada,” said Bailey Lashley, branch sales manager for Macsteel Service Centers USA inTulsa, Oklahoma, and president of the Mid-America Chapter. “While overall manufacturing output is growing once again, durable goods manufacturing in the U.S. suffered heavily in the last recession and has been very, very slow to recover. We believe currency manipulation by our Asian trading partners and extremely uneven implementation of global trade agreements are among the reasons why.”

Speakers at the meeting include Maurice S. Nelson, Jr., president and chief executive officer of t he Earle M. Jorgensen Company of Brea, California, and the immediate past chairman of MSCI; William M. Hickey, president of Lapham-Hickey Steel Corporation, Chicago, and an expert on currency manipulation; and M. Robert Weidner, III, president and chief executive officer of MSCI, who will be the moderator. Also expected to speak is Ed Ballard, General Manager, Six B Mfg. Co., of Wahoo, Nebraska.

“When we began our Town Hall Meeting program, comparatively few federal-level officials or politicians were talking about the 2.8 million manufacturing jobs lost during the last several years or the flight of manufacturing jobs to low-cost centers in China and elsewhere,” said Weidner. “Very little was being said about interventions in the currency markets by Japan, Taiwan and others designed to give their manufacturers a competitive advantage by keeping the value of their currencies low. Very little was being said about the highly negative impact on global trade that results from China’s refusal to permit the Yuan’s value to be set in the free and fair currency market.”

Now, Weidner said, these and other issues have been raised in the national consciousness and are a very real policy question for politicians in the 2004 elections.

“These meetings bring these issues into sharp focus,” Weidner said. “This is especially important now because the recent economic growth masks areas of substantial manufacturing weakness. For example, while assembly plants are busy once again, a larger percentage of the parts they use are from Asia, not the U.S. This lack of manufacturing parts production may be why we have experienced 41 consecutive months of decline in manufacturing employment. We encourage MSCI members, suppliers and customers to attend this meeting and let their views be known.”

Previous meetings have been held in Chicago, Charlotte, Atlanta, the Los Angeles area, and Cleveland. So far, more than 1,000 people, including members of Congress and senior congressional staff members, have attended.

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 Bailey Lashley, 918-266-1666