Yesterday’s Story—or Tomorrow’s?

Why Investing in Infrastructure Matters More Than Ever

America has a fundamental choice. Is our nation to be yesterday’s story—or tomorrow’s?

Aging infrastructure suppresses growth and threatens global competitiveness for manufacturers in the United States. And it puts the very future of our prosperity and productivity at risk.

At the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), we are making the case that it is long past time for our policymakers to make a serious commitment. Investing in infrastructure matters more than ever.

 This spring, the NAM galvanized congressional action to ensure that federal highway and transit funding did not expire at the end of May. Through Infrastructure Week, we drew attention to the immediate need to address the crisis and succeeded in getting Congress to continue these vital investments through July 31. Infrastructure Week capped off with six NAM members participating at an event with White House staff and administration leaders on the need to pass a multiyear surface transportation authorization. In June, the 2015 Manufacturing Summit drew more than 400 manufacturers who stormed Capitol Hill to demand a well-funded, long-term investment in infrastructure.

But temporary patches are not enough. The NAM will continue to be a leader in mobilizing support for a long-term transportation fix and sound investments in America’s infrastructure. Take a look at our strategy to build the foundation that manufacturers in the United States need to lead the world.


As a leading organizer of Infrastructure Week, the NAM insisted on a long-term solution that prevents the United States from repeating the same crisis of unpreparedness over and over again. Partnering with traditional and nontraditional allies, we contributed to the movement for a well-funded, multiyear surface transportation authorization.

Siemens USA President and CEO Eric Spiegel (left) and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx prior to the event. The company was a leading sponsor of Infrastructure Week, and Spiegel participated in a panel featuring executive perspectives on infrastructure.

Photo by Ian Wagreich/Ian Wagreich Photography

Business and labor leaders joined a number of U.S. mayors to kick off Infrastructure Advocacy Day with a press rally on Capitol Hill. NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons took up the call for action along with Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker (D), Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait (R), Laborers’ International Union of North America General President Terry O’Sullivan and former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

Photo by David Bohrer/NAM

Timmons kicked off Infrastructure Week at a Bloomberg event with Foxx. At the event, the NAM enlisted additional key allies— Vice President Joe Biden, Schnitzer Steel Industries President and CEO and U.S. Chamber of Commerce Chairman Tamara Lundgren, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D)—in the fight to secure the 21st-century infrastructure that manufacturers and all Americans need. 

Photo by Ian Wagreich/Ian Wagreich Photography

At April’s Transportation Construction Coalition Fly-In on Capitol Hill, the NAM arranged for Sean Glennon, president, Operations Americas, Volvo Construction Equipment, to call for Congress to pass a robust, multiyear highway bill. 

Photo by David Bohrer/NAM

When people think about infrastructure, roads and bridges immediately come to mind. Indeed, the NAM has been advocating a long-term surface transportation bill that invests in these critical infrastructure components. Sound aviation and navigable water infrastructure are also essential—and they are top priorities for manufacturers.

Last year, the NAM fought for, and won, continued investment in our nation’s 12,000 miles of commercially navigable channels and some 240 lock sites. We are already nearing the end of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act. Congress will need to act again to ensure no disruption in waterborne commerce responsible for moving products and commodities valued at nearly $214 billion.

Together, an array of components adds up to the robust, 21st-century infrastructure that will drive the manufacturing economy as well as the U.S. economy into the future. The NAM is manufacturers’ advocate—and your advocate.

This article originally appeared in the June 2015 issue of Member Focus.