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Manufacturers Flag Infrastructure Woes

Thursday, September 19, 2013

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Calling the deterioration of America's infrastructure a "legacy of past investments," U.S. manufacturers are warning that declining transportation networks will weaken the nation's global competitiveness.

A new survey, "Infrastructure: Essential to Manufacturing Competitiveness," conducted by the National Association of Manufacturers, analyzed responses from more than 400 manufacturers on concerns about America's roads and bridges, transit networks, aviation systems and ports.

According to the survey, 70 percent of respondents believe the country's infrastructure is in fair or poor shape, 70 percent report that roads are getting worse, and 65 percent do not believe that infrastructure is positioned to respond to the demands of a growing economy over the next 10 to 15 years.

NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons unveiled the survey on Tuesday (Sept. 17), along with former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, who co-chairs Building America's Future, a bipartisan coalition of elected officials "dedicated to bringing about a new era of U.S. investment in infrastructure that enhances our nation's prosperity and quality of life."

Infrastructure survey
National Association of Manufacturers / David Bohrer

NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons (center) discussed the infrastructure survey at the Port of Philadelphia with the port's executive director, James McDermott (left) and BAF co-chair and former PA Gov. Ed Rendell (right).

In addition to Rendell, BAF is co-chaired by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

NAM represents small and large manufacturers in industrial sectors in all 50 states. According to NAM, manufacturing employs nearly 12 million people and contributes over $1.8 trillion to the U.S. economy annually.

Investments 'Not Improving'

"This survey clearly demonstrates that our nation's approach to investing in infrastructure is not improving at a pace to  keep up with the growing needs of manufacturers and that the United States risks falling behind," said Timmons.

Citing a report from the World Economic Forum, NAM says that the U.S. now ranks 14th on the 2012 Global Competitiveness Index's World Infrastructure Ranking. Hong Kong, Singapore and Germany ranked first through third, respectively.

While infrastructure struggles, travel and freight will continue to increase, the report suggests. It projects an 80 percent increase in 30 years for passenger miles traveled, doubled port volume by 2020, and an 88 percent increase in freight tonnage by 2035.

"Our outdated roads, ports and inland waterways are in desperate need of repair and continue to add costs and complications as manufacturers move their products to market," said Timmons.

National Association of Manufacturers
National Association of Manufacturers

Over 400 manufacturers weighed in on their views of America's infrastructure.

Rendell added: "Improving our ports, highways, and bridges is essentially an economic driver. Modernized ports and transportation systems enable American manufacturers and businesses to export their goods to countries around the world, which strengthens our economy here at home."

A majority of NAM members said that "all options" to fund infrastructure investment should be on the table, and they would be willing to potentially pay more in taxes, tolls and fees if revenues went toward specific improvements.

Telecommunications infrastructure was the only component that scored a "slightly positive" rating, with 34.9 percent saying that the network is keeping up with business needs.

"I hope leaders in Washington seize the opportunity to make the significant investments our country really needs to stay competitive in the global economy, or we risk falling further behind our competitors. There is no better time to invest in America's future," said Rendell.


Tagged categories: Bridges; Economy; Infrastructure; Roads/Highways; Transportation

Comment from Richard Hogue, (9/19/2013, 8:35 AM)

As long as we allow our elected officials to piss away money we don't have to bomb and rebuild the middle east, I don't expect much to happen here. Detroit is just the canary in the mine.

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