National Association of Manufacturers’ Timmons addresses Ariz. manufacturing leaders at awards summit

Arizona business leaders gathered on Tuesday at the Arizona Biltmore to celebrate Manufacturing Month and the state’s booming manufacturing sector. Hosted by the Arizona Manufacturers Council (AMC), the Manufacturer of the Year Awards honored Arizona manufacturers of all sizes for their contributions to the state. Awards distributed included:

  • Small Manufacturer of the Year: Poly Print
  • Medium Manufacturer of the Year: TYR Tactical
  • Large Manufacturer of the Year: CalPortland
  • Excellence in Innovation: Heitek Automation
  • Excellence in Sustainability: Republic Services

“Over the last decade, manufacturing has become an increasingly important driver of Arizona’s growth,” AMC Executive Director Grace Appelbe said. “We were pleased to celebrate Manufacturing Month with the companies that exemplify why Arizona is such a great place for manufacturers.”

The AMC also honored Mesa Mayor John Giles as Champion of the Year for his support for manufacturing, with Mesa emerging as a hub for Arizona’s economic expansion.

Reflecting Arizona’s increasing economic competitiveness and national importance in manufacturing, Jay Timmons, the president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers delivered the event’s keynote address. 

A bright future, but not without its challenges

Timmons began his remarks by applauding the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry’s role advocating for manufacturers at the federal level. “Your advocacy at the federal level is helping manufacturers across the country,” he said.

Timmons discussed manufacturing’s role in creating 12.8 million jobs, and providing a path towards success for many Americans. He emphasized that manufacturing had weathered the pandemic better than many other industries, and that its future is bright — particularly in Arizona, where advanced manufacturing is expanding rapidly.

Timmons, however, identified challenges ahead “when we look at the broader economy, our government and civic life.” 

Among these challenges are inflation, which he said is constraining supply chains and making manufacturing more difficult. He also cited Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, saying that securing domestic energy supplies ought to be a priority amid global instability.

Importantly, Timmons alluded to America’s declining workforce participation rate, and shortage of workers. “We’re facing a workforce crisis,” he said, “with less than six job seekers for every ten jobs in America.” This shortage has strengthened many manufacturers’ desire to work with universities, trade schools, and K-12 schools to build stable workforce pipelines.

“Listen to manufacturers!”

Lots of political candidates seek to position themselves as “pro-manufacturing,” according toTimmons, but fewer want to listen to manufacturers and what their needs are. In response, NAM has released a policy roadmap titled “Competing to Win.” The agenda includes policy recommendations on taxes, regulations, immigration, workforce, energy, and trade.

Timmons applauded the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) as an example of pro-manufacturing legislation, comparing it to rocket fuel. He contrasted the TCJA with the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), saying that while NAM opposed the final bill, the organization was grateful to the Arizona Chamber and to Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., for their work to remove anti-competitive measures from the legislation.

On China’s manufacturing policies, Timmons stressed that America’s primary geopolitical competitor provides a 200% deduction for research and development. “Meanwhile, unless Congress acts, our tax code will only give manufacturers a partial R&D deduction.” The United States’ should adopt a tax code that encourages industrial development, he said.

Transitioning to trade, he argued that the U.S. should not accept bad trade deals from the World Trade Organization that could put intellectual property (IP) rights at risk. Strong IP laws are of particular importance to Arizona’s biopharmaceutical companies.

He applauded the USMCA, championing it as an example of a good trade deal. Timmons stressed, however, that trade deals must be fully enforced.

He concluded by saying that manufacturers have a unique role to play in solving some of America’s largest problems. 

“Our role is to be true to the values that have made America exceptional and kept manufacturing strong: free enterprise, competitiveness, individual liberty and equal opportunity.”

Joe Pitts

Joe Pitts is a born and bred Arizonan who formerly served as the program director at the Arizona Chamber Foundation. He graduated Arizona State University's Barrett, the Honors College in 2023 with a B.S. in Management and concurrent B.S. in Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership.

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