By Scott Paul
Martin Cardenas had a productive few days last month at Daytona International Speedway.
Cardenas races for the Yoshimura Suzuki factory team on the American Motorcycle Association Superbike circuit, and the veteran Colombian rider left the Florida track in March with a win. He rode on high-performance tires made at the Goodyear-Dunlop plant in Tonawanda.
Cardenas wasn’t the only one to benefit from Dunlop’s high-quality products. In fact, all of the motorcycle road races at the speedway that week were won on Dunlop race tires made right here in Western New York.
Five years ago, a huge chunk of our manufacturing base had left for cheaper climes. Helped along by the recession beginning in 2008, the economy had shed 5.5 million manufacturing jobs nationwide. But, slowly, manufacturing is returning. Look no further than Dunlop’s Tonawanda plant. It cut jobs during the economic downturn, but demand is back, production is up and the company is running at full strength.
American manufacturers are capable of cranking out these top-notch products. And despite a decade of bad headlines, the public still loves “Made in America.” National polling shows that, Democrat or Republican, voters want to see a healthy manufacturing sector.
Conveniently, our elected officials have taken notice of the connection between support for American manufacturing and good politics. Their revelation is what made job creation the most common subject in political advertising during last year’s presidential campaign, and it’s what made manufacturing’s nascent resurgence (500,000 jobs created in the sector since 2010) a feature of President Obama’s State of the Union address in January.
Unfortunately, it’s all just talk unless we demand smart public policy to back it up.
The Buffalo economy was built on industry and commerce. For Buffalo and the nation to enjoy the kind of resurgence that will make a real impact, we need to get serious by getting specific.
Specifically, we need to reshape the tax code to provide incentives for job creation at home; ensure that research and development tax credits reward businesses that design and produce in America; expand up-front expensing for capital purchases; demand that trading partners like China and Japan provide reciprocity in our markets; and invest more funding to rebuild our vocational and technical education programs.
Dunlop is a success story. But we want to see more of America’s manufacturers back at the top of the podium. We can get them there, but Washington needs a push.
Scott Paul is president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing. The organization is holding a free, non-partisan town hall meeting this Monday at Asbury Hall, 314 Delaware Ave., with doors opening at 6 p.m.