Immigration reform a top priority for National Association of Manufacturers

Last updated on February 23rd, 2023 at 03:45 pm

During a State of Manufacturing address delivered at Husco International’s Waukesha headquarters on Tuesday, Jay Timmons, president and chief executive officer of the National Association of Manufacturers, highlighted his organization’s agenda for helping American manufacturers thrive.

Chief among NAM’s priorities is addressing the country’s nearly 800,000 open manufacturing positions. Timmons said clearing out the country’s backlog of immigrants waiting for a work visa will be key to filling a portion of these jobs.

“For so many manufacturers in America right now, there are more open jobs than there are people to fill them,” said Timmons. “One of the many ways we fill those jobs and keep our economy moving is welcoming immigrants into our workforce. Just like you have…just like we have in the past to build a stronger, more prosperous America.”

Five years ago, Husco welcomed a group of Burmese team members to the organization. Most recently, the company also recruited refuges from Afghanistan after months of recruiting for second shift positions with no luck. Austin Ramirez, president and CEO of Husco, said the addition of these team members just made sense for the company in looking to solve workforce problems.

“We educate the best and brightest scientists and engineers in the world at American universities and then we often don’t let them stay and build businesses or work for American companies. I just think that’s a travesty,” said Ramirez.

Other issues

Competing with China is also front of mind for NAM. The organization’s research shows that in 2019, counterfeit products cost American businesses $131 billion; 87% of counterfeit products seized at U.S. borders came from China.

“If we’re going to counter China, then we must hold China accountable for the trade commitments it has already made to the U.S. And we have to forge ambitious, cutting-edge trade agreements with our allies,” said Timmons.

To help manufacturers remain globally competitive, NAM will spend time this year pushing Congress to pass a bill that reforms the permitting process. This would expedite the time it takes a manufacturer to get permission to build a new road or facility.

NAM will also launch this year a nationwide campaign telling the Environmental Protection Agency that manufacturers are already working to reduce air pollution, and that the organization should not change current regulations before they can be fully implemented.

“We’ve had some very aggressive and, in many cases, aspirational goals when it comes to reducing emissions in our air. Over time, manufacturers worked very hard to try to meet the standards that were implemented by EPA. We’re working hard to create solutions and the goal posts just keep moving,” said Timmons.

NAM also plans on spending time working with Congress in an attempt to restore incentives for businesses doing research and development and to lower taxes for companies.

Jay Timmons speaks at Husco International.

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Ashley covers startups, technology and manufacturing for BizTimes. She was previously the managing editor of the News Graphic and Washington County Daily News. In past reporting roles, covering education at The Waukesha Freeman, she received several WNA awards. She is a UWM graduate. In her free time, Ashley enjoys watching independent films, tackling a new recipe in the kitchen and reading a good book.