A Great Way to Make Your Voice Heard

Small businesses, like many of us in the die casting industry, are undoubtedly the great engine of prosperity in the United States. We have brought the economy out of the last seven recessions and are responsible for nearly 80% of new jobs created during an upturn.

However, a recent survey by the National Federation of Independent Business (WSJ 1-12-10) found that “continued weak sales and threatening domestic policies from Washington have left small business owners with little to be optimistic about in the coming year.”

Members of Congress don’t get the basic premise that in order to sustain a recovery and create long-term growth, it is necessary to provide small businesses, especially in manufacturing, incentives and assistance to add jobs to our workforces here in the United States. The policies out of Washington, DC, that raise taxes, create burdensome regulations and drive our customers to move products offshore will continue to weaken not only our industry, but our social living standards here in America.
More than ever, common sense must be heard in Washington — it is about creating permanent jobs, not just temporary “stimulus” jobs, here at home in the U.S.

I am not a political activist, but I have been traveling to Washington, DC, every year for a long time to attend NADCA’s Government Affairs Conference. The conference is well put together under the guidance of our Washington representatives, Waterman & Associates, who have done a fine job for the past 20-plus years.

It has always been a great conference, but our attendance in Washington has not been that good considering we have nearly 1,800 members in our association. Usually, a handful of people from a few companies make the trip every year. Some of the problems for the low attendance may be that people are not concerned with the Washington scene, perhaps they are just too busy, not willing to spend money for the visit or not sure what the “lobbying” process actually involves.

When I talk about lobbying in Washington to someone who has never done it before, they usually look surprised that I actually do it, and they also seem intimidated by the concept of going into a senator’s or representative’s office. They usually will ask what is involved in going to a congressional office.

For those of you who have never visited your congressional representative, the process is not complex: NADCA’s Government Affairs Committee decides on a few issues that are important and specific to die casting months before our visit, the Waterman Group prepares all handout materials for us to present to the congressional person (or their aides), we get briefed about the issues in detail by Waterman the day before the office visit, appointments are all set for us by Waterman before we arrive in Washington and we show up at the scheduled times at the congressional office. Even maps of the Hill and building locations are given out with our presentation packets.

Sounds pretty easy, right? It is, and I equate it with trying to educate our representatives on our industry and why certain policies or regulations will impair our competitive position. Most members of the Congress have no idea what die casting is and its importance to all the markets we serve, including national defense. There are a few representatives, through NADCA’s efforts, who understand, like Rep. Don Manzulo (IL) or Sherrod Brown (OH), who wants a focused manufacturing strategy for the country.
If you are intimidated by the process of visiting Washington to meet with your elected officials, please don’t be.

Think of this: the people in Washington are deciding on policies and regulations that cost us money and reduce our competitiveness globally. As more jobs shift overseas, the fewer people working in this country will have a greater tax burden to subsidize the support programs for the unemployed left here — not all these people can go to work for the federal government or be retrained for a service job such as Wal-mart.

Everyone operating a business focuses on expenses, but when you look at how much money each one of us pays in taxes, you may want to join us in Washington this year. Mark your calendar for the Metalcasting Industry Government Affairs Conference, May 5-7, 2010, and I’ll see you there. Visit www.diecasting.org/meetings/gab for more information.

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