This past election, then-candidate Donald Trump came to Dundalk, a community that resembles so many towns and neighborhoods in Rust Belt states that have seen their manufacturing jobs base erode. He received a hero's welcome because residents heard him acknowledging what they lived and what they knew: When manufacturing jobs left many other problems arose. His words resonated — and now his actions are giving manufacturers the real change in Washington we've been looking for.
Manufacturers in the U.S. are feeling more optimistic about the economy and business environment than we have in 20 years, according to a new National Association of Manufacturers' (NAM) survey. This is in large part due to President Trump's bold commitment to lead a manufacturing jobs surge in America.
In fact, this month we had the opportunity to meet with President Trump in person, and it's clear that he is resolutely determined to boost manufacturing jobs in America. So whether you live in Cumberland, Laurel or Cambridge — anywhere in our state — you'll have more of a chance at a good-paying, long-term career. The president is particularly concerned about providing jobs to those in our cities like Baltimore — to individuals who've been left behind by politicians who made promises but haven't delivered results. And he knows how to start the turnaround because he's listening to manufacturers.
Like us, he understands that by cutting back on burdensome and duplicative regulations, implementing tax reform and investing in infrastructure projects, manufacturers can create not just jobs but real futures. Maryland manufacturers and workers across the country have a new reason to be excited about our nation's path forward. Our country's economy and workforce are back at the forefront of the president's agenda.
During his short time in office thus far, President Trump has followed through with campaign promises by signing executive orders to eliminate some of the worst-offending regulations, and he continues to seek feedback and reach out to manufacturers to gain insight into the regulations that are decimating manufacturing jobs in America. However, we have a long way to go.
Manufacturers nationwide know that regulations are instrumental in helping to make workplaces safe, clean and productive. Both Marlin Steel and BTE have stellar workplace safety records. In fact, BTE specializes in developing comprehensive workplace safety plans and works with manufacturers and businesses from coast to coast to ensure employee safety. But manufacturers still struggle to comply with new and existing OSHA regulations, as well as thousands of other environmental and labor regulations from other government agencies that go beyond what makes sense and what is right. Our regulatory system must not be based on politics, but on smart decisions that achieve balance, transparency and fairness.
According to a recent NAM study, manufacturers face more than 297,000 restrictions on our operations from federal rules and regulations. And for the average small manufacturer with fewer than 50 employees, regulation costs almost $35,000 per employee per year. It's very clear why it has become increasingly difficult for manufacturers to grow their operations and hire more employees.
And manufacturers and businesses are operating in the 21st century with a tax code that hasn't seen a major overhaul since 1986. It's burdensome and complex, and the rates are not competitive with the rest of the world. Another issue leaving manufacturers at a competitive disadvantage globally is our nation's crumbling infrastructure. America's infrastructure and transportation system hasn't been revamped since the days of President Eisenhower. Competing nations are tripling our annual investments in infrastructure. This hinders our ability to move our products to the marketplace, and also jeopardizes the safety of all Americans.
Manufacturers at Marlin Steel, BTE and all around Maryland are raring to go — to unleash a new era of prosperity for everyone. President Trump's emphasis on manufacturing, and on the reforms we need to create "jobs, jobs, jobs," is the direction Washington needs to go. It's time.
Drew Greenblatt (firstname.lastname@example.org) is president of Marlin Steel Wire Products in Baltimore. Chuck Wetherington (email@example.com) is president of BTE Technologies. Both are executive committee members of the National Association of Manufacturers.