Trexel Inc. (Woburn, MA) announced the re-appointment of Steve Braig, President and CEO, to the U.S. Manufacturing Council by Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker for 2015 and 2016. Braig previously served in the 2013-2014 term in a leadership role as Co-Chair of the Tax, Trade and Export Growth Subcommittee. During that term he traveled to Washington, D.C., twice to meet with members of Congress to share the committee’s ideas on improving the global competitiveness of the U.S. manufacturing industry.
The Manufacturing Council is composed of 30 private sector leaders and was established in 2004 to serve as the principal private sector advisory body to the Secretary of Commerce on matters relating to the U.S. manufacturing industry.
“Support for U.S. manufacturing is a top priority for the Obama administration, and for the Department of Commerce, in particular,” said Pritzker. “The U.S. has now added 786,000 manufacturing jobs over the past 58 months, the strongest growth since the 1990s. The strength of U.S. manufacturing is critical to our nation’s economy and our competitiveness on the global stage.”
PlasticsToday asked Braig about whether or not the Administration is truly on the side of manufacturers, given the increase in regulatory rules and the lack of tax reform that would benefit businesses, especially small to-mid-sized companies that are prevalent in the plastics industry.
“I can honestly say that the current administration, as well as most members of Congress, truly recognize the importance of a strong U.S. manufacturing economy and see it as a way to expand the ranks of the middle class,” said Braig. “It is acknowledged that manufacturing jobs pay significantly higher wages and provide for higher benefits than most service-related industries.”
When it comes to tax reform to help small to-mid-sized businesses, Braig noted that it’s a topic that has become extremely frustrating. “Both parties agree that corporate tax reform is desperately needed in improving global competitiveness of U.S. companies,” he commented. “U.S. multinational companies currently have $1.95 trillion cash overseas. The current tax system makes it prohibitively expensive to repatriate these funds. This is close to $2 trillion, which could be invested in the U.S. if the currently punitive tax code [were] modified. So, while both Republicans and Democrats see a need in changing the tax code, there are too many special interests in the way of actually getting it done.”
Still, Braig is confident that by working with the Department of Commerce important changes can be made. “While government is typically not viewed as an ally of businesses, the Department of Commerce is a stark exception,” Braig stated. “The department has a lot of extremely helpful programs designed to expand business domestically and internationally. The problem is that large U.S. corporations have liaison offices in D.C. that take full advantage of these programs. In the plastics industry, the vast majority of companies are small and mid-sized businesses, and I can say from experience, very few of my industry peers know of the existence of these programs or know how to use them.”
Braig added that he is making it one of his “personal missions” to educate the industry of the outreach by the Department of Commerce to small and medium-sized enterprises, “and increase the awareness of these programs, as well as inform my peers in the plastics industry of the existence of these programs.”