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Educating Congress about manufacturing—and making it personal

Article-Educating Congress about manufacturing—and making it personal

When Tim Peterson of Industrial Molds invited the district's Congressional Representative to visit the Rockford, IL company, he didn't expect Rep. Don Manzullo (R-IL16) to actually come. But in early February he did, and Peterson is even more convinced than before that this is the right thing to do. Washington, says Peterson, appears to be getting the idea that these jobs are important.

"I believe Rep. Manzullo is genuinely interested in manufacturing—coming out of Rockford you'd have to be," says Peterson. "I think it's a good thing to get our Congress people involved on a personal level with us so they can see that we do offer good jobs. With all the focus on improving the employment outlook, especially among small companies that are the major source of jobs in this country, understanding what we do and how we do it is critical. It's well documented that the payback of a manufacturing job vs. a service job is huge, as the manufacturing jobs have a trickle-down effect to create many more jobs."

Between its moldmaking and molding operations, Industrial Molds has nearly 120 people, and as Peterson notes, the difference in a House of Representative election, and most others as well, can be as little as a few hundred votes. But apart from the purely political angle, the people contact is probably even more important. Manzullo, Peterson told us, was able to see the people and what they do, and understand that these are good jobs that are important to the American economy in many different ways.

Peterson told PlasticsToday by phone that he has tried to become more active politically, mostly by building his awareness of the issues and players, and being present at events. He's readying for a legislative visit to the Illinois state capital soon with a Tooling & Manufacturing Assn. delegation. "It's important they [politicians] see you," he says, and thus the invitation to Manzullo even though Peterson knew he already was genuinely interested in manufacturing. Peterson notes that the personal contact and in-house visit is even more important when your Congressional Representative does not seem interested or informed about manufacturing.

Manzullo arrived in the morning with one of his legislative aides and had time to discuss the business and the economy before getting a guided tour of the facilities. "He asked good questions," said Peterson, "and he was really listening. Having your Congress people know what their constituents do and helping them understand the value we bring to the economy is extremely important to improving the U.S. economy and keeping U.S. manufacturing strong."

Do you know when is the best time to call your Congressional Representative and invite him/her to see your business and the voters that work there? Now would be best.—[email protected]

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