National manufacturing sector advocates gather to assess policy environment

Advocates for the nation’s manufacturing sector gathered in San Diego this week for the Conference of State Manufacturers Associations’ annual leadership conference, where the sector’s competitiveness amid rising inflation, labor challenges, and hostile policies from Washington, D.C. was front and center. 

Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry President and CEO Danny Seiden spoke on a panel about the state and federal policy issues facing manufacturers. The Chamber is the state affiliate of the National Association of Manufacturers and oversees the Arizona Manufacturers Council. 

Seiden reflected on how Arizona has advanced policies like accelerated depreciation on business personal property or the reduction in the commercial property tax assessment ratio that have made the state more attractive to manufacturers. 

A state’s tax environment is an important factor in its ability to attract jobs. 

“If you create good tax policy, you will see growth,” Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry President and CEO Bradley Jackson said. 

The connection to favorable tax policy and economic growth has been borne out at the federal level, too, according to Chris Netram, managing vice president of tax and domestic economic policy at the NAM. 

“Immediately following the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that passed in December 2017, 2018 was the very best year for manufacturing job creation in decades,” he said. 

Among its many provisions, the TCJA lowered the U.S. corporate income tax rate from 35% to 21% and repealed the corporate alternative minimum tax. 

Netram said NAM, which supported the TCJA’s passage, has focused on making data-driven arguments to advance good policy, sharing with the White House in the early days of the Biden administration an analysis of the implications of the economic plan the president touted on the campaign trail. 

Seiden credited Ariz. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema for her willingness to work with the business community and keep an open mind to federal policies that would positively affect Arizona manufacturers. He cited her opposition to the Build Back Better legislation, a sweeping domestic spending bill, as an example of her interest in protecting Arizona job creators. 

“She is unwavering,” Seiden said. “She does not want to see us become less competitive.”

Against the backdrop of the debate on Capitol Hill over the Chips-plus Act, a bill to boost domestic supply chain production, which Sinema and her colleague Sen. Mark Kelly, D, support, Seiden discussed the importance of ensuring continued access to semiconductors amid supply chain disruptions and uncertain global politics. Semiconductors are found in everything from consumer electronics to automobiles and kitchen appliances. 

TSMC’s multi-billion-dollar investment in Arizona is essential to that strategy, he said. 

“It’s not just cars – it’s national defense,” Seiden said. “If we don’t have access to these chips then Raytheon’s 13,000 jobs in Arizona, which are focused on building missiles – they can’t build the right kind of missiles without those semiconductors. This is a huge deal.” 

In addition to state and federal policy, conference panels examined workforce challenges, the state of the domestic and international supply chain, and energy issues. 

The event concludes today.

Grace Appelbe

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