Innovation and Technology

Policy and Legal

Why Policymakers Should Support—Not Hinder—R&D

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Manufacturing is an industry built on innovation—but with a recent change in tax law, manufacturers are encountering a new and major obstacle to the critical research and development investments they need to make in order to compete at home and around the world.

The background: Up until January 2022, a business could deduct 100% of their R&D expenses in the same year those expenses were incurred. But a change to the law that took effect this year now requires businesses to spread those deductions over a period of years, making investment in innovation more expensive.

The manufacturer: At Brewer Science—a Missouri-based manufacturer in the semiconductor industry—this issue has become an urgent challenge. The company is a top producer of materials needed to make semiconductor chips.

  • In such a fast-moving industry, staying competitive requires nonstop innovation—and that demands constant investment in new products and processes. According to Brewer Science Executive Vice President Dan Brewer, a significant percentage of the company’s revenue goes back into R&D every year.
  • “Semiconductors are everywhere, and new generations are constantly being created,” said Mr. Brewer. “The only way to compete abroad in our industry is to out-invent the competition.”

The impact: By making R&D investments more expensive, the tax code hinders manufacturers’ ability to make necessary expenditures not only on innovation, but also on other kinds of growth. Already, the harmful tax change has impacted Brewer Science’s bottom line and put a hitch in its plans for the future.

  • Because the new law requires a deduction to be spread out over five years, companies are paying more in taxes than they were a year ago—a result that is causing them to reassess future investments.
  • “We have a long list of new hires that we’re trying to bring on board and new projects we’d like to begin, and now we’re looking to make adjustments,” said Mr. Brewer. “Which projects can we put on hold? Which hires can we delay? It’s unfortunate that the same people who want investment in onshoring our industry are penalizing those that are already here.”

The ask: Brewer Science’s request is simple: return the tax treatment of R&D expenses to the way it was so that manufacturers are not penalized for pursuing the R&D that is necessary to spur economic growth and maintain America’s global leadership in innovation. There is still time to undo this for the current 2022 tax year, but time is quickly running out.

  • “We’re not asking for a handout,” said Mr. Brewer. “We’re just asking Congress to allow us to immediately deduct these expenses as has been the case for nearly 70 years, since before Brewer Science was even a company.”

The big picture: Mr. Brewer is also quick to point out the widespread impact of this change, especially for smaller companies.

  • “There are some companies that can’t make it five years without the ability to immediately deduct their R&D expenses,” he said.

Our move: The NAM has been leading the charge to ensure the tax code continues to support innovation by allowing businesses to fully deduct their R&D expenses in the year in which they are incurred.

The last word: “Our industry moves extremely fast,” said Mr. Brewer. “We must invest aggressively in research and development to stay relevant and stay competitive.”

Business Operations

A Small Manufacturer on What Policymakers Can Do for Her Company

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Courtney Silver runs a precision machining company that has been in business for 75 years, so she knows how fast the manufacturing industry evolves. The Ketchie, Inc., president, who serves as the vice chair of the NAM’s Small and Medium Manufacturers Group, has a clear message for policymakers and manufacturers alike.

  • To stay competitive, “manufacturers must have policies that incentivize us to save for emergencies, like pandemics, and to use profits productively to invest in machines, technologies and people,” she says.
  • “Small manufacturers know what to do, to invest our profits and grow”—and policymakers should let them get on with it.

We caught up with Silver earlier this fall and chatted about her plans for Ketchie, the policies that would support manufacturers’ competitiveness and more.

The history: Seventy-five years ago, her late husband’s grandfather came home from World War II to work in a local textile mill, Silver tells us.

  • The former Air Force captain quickly observed that local manufacturers needed a “job shop” to provide precision machined solutions. In 1947, he founded the company.
  • Since then, and through many upgrades in technology, the business has grown considerably. It now supports several industries, including “textile, rail, heavy machinery, agriculture and industrial equipment,” says Silver.

In the family: Silver joined the business in 2008, then took over as president after her husband passed away in 2014. Through all her years there, she says, “investing in the lives of the people I work with and providing them with opportunities to develop and grow their God-given talents has been what matters the most” to her.

  • That dedication spills outward into the community. Silver and the company are deeply invested in their work with the North Carolina Manufacturing Institute, numerous local schools, the local Boys & Girls Club and the Cooperative Christian Ministries.

What do small manufacturers need? To help small manufacturers stay competitive and keep contributing to their communities, “we need a tax structure that works for us,” says Silver.

  • The 2017 tax reform law benefited Ketchie by allowing large manufacturers to expand, meaning they had more orders for Ketchie. The company was able to hire more workers as well as provide raises and bonuses.
  • However, small manufacturers need further support from policymakers, according to Silver. “Smaller manufacturers have access to less capital,” she explains, so they must often use their profits for crucial short-term investments, like new equipment.
  • But they also need help from policymakers for longer-term efforts, such as saving for emergencies (including pandemics) and using their profits to aggressively attract and retain a high-quality workforce.

The absence of a tax structure that supports all these endeavors together “hinders innovation and growth and limits our ability to compete,” Silver points out.

A promising future: When asked how new technologies are helping small manufacturers innovate, Silver responds enthusiastically: “That’s why I love the industry so much—the machining technology is transformational for small businesses in our industry.”

  • Ketchie has kept up with the latest innovations throughout its history. Back in the 1980s, that meant purchasing its first CNC (computer numerical control) machines for more efficient, precise machining.
  • Today, it’s automation. The company’s first machine-tending collaborative robot will debut on the factory floor in November, taking over machinists’ “least favorite” part of the job—changing parts while the machines run. The robot will free up workers for more challenging and skilled work around the shop, as well as dramatically increase productivity by running unattended after shift hours, Silver says.
  • Technology has “opened up” manufacturing, as she puts it. Automation, 3D printing, additive machining and more have “sped up the lifecycle from the idea to the finished part.”

People first: Technology may be evolving rapidly, but the need for a high-quality workforce remains the same. When asked about her plans for Ketchie’s future, Silver says that “the number-one challenge, again and again, is workforce.”

  • Silver aspires to strengthen Ketchie’s community outreach by teaching semester-long classes in the shop for high school students, which will include mentorships and a character development curriculum along with job shadowing on the shop floor.
  • Ketchie also plans to continue its leadership role in its community as an active member of the school program board, and by continuing to open its doors to tours, interns and apprentices.
  • “Making these long-term investments in our youth, in our industry and in our team is foundational to who we are, and we are thankful for all of the opportunities to help shape our future workforce in manufacturing,” says Silver.

The next generation: For the president of a family company, this question must be inevitable: Will Silver’s children run the business, too?

  • “Time will tell for sure. They both show strong leadership qualities and are interested in what we are accomplishing at Ketchie. My son has a lot of fun with a 3D printer at home, and my daughter already has excellent problem-solving skills. It’s going to be interesting to see!” 

At the NAM: About her work at the NAM, Silver says, “I want to see a genuine opportunity for small and medium manufacturers to grow, thrive and successfully compete.”

  • “Each SMM member should feel truly valued and know they have a place at the NAM. Their story, and what they do every day, matters to manufacturing in America.”
Business Operations

What’s the Next Phase of Digital Evolution?

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In late 2021, the Manufacturing Leadership Council launched the Manufacturing in 2030 Project, a comprehensive examination of the factors that will influence the industry leading up to the year 2030 and beyond. The latest milestone in this sweeping project is the release of The Next Phase of Digital Evolution.

This groundbreaking white paper examines the global megatrends like population, the economy, sustainability demands, and technology development – all of which will impact business decisions and are essential for manufacturing competitiveness.

Data’s Growing Role: Data is perhaps manufacturing’s most important asset, tracking everything from individual machine performance to the status of global supply chains. Developments in digital systems for factories, high-powered industrial networks and advanced communication technologies are giving rise to the ability to collect data.

Combined with a rise in analytics capabilities, manufacturers are now able to apply that data in powerful ways to improve processes, speed innovation, find new business opportunities and ultimately create conditions for greater competitiveness.

A Rising Middle Class: Population trends will influence where manufacturers build new factories, who they hire, the products that they make, organization for supply chains and who they are selling to.

Africa and Asia are projected to have the strongest population growth, and while traditional middle-class markets in the U.S., Europe and Japan are expected to grow at only modest rates, 88% of the next billion entrants into the middle class will be from Africa.

What’s to Come: Manufacturers will also need to consider their role in creating sustainable business practices and how they will overcome persistent workforce challenges. Institutional investors are pressuring businesses to significantly improve environmental practices, while the already yawning gap in skilled workers is expected to skyrocket to 2.1 million unfilled openings by 2030.

Technology could have a role in solving both of those issues. On the sustainability front, data can be key to monitoring emissions, utility consumption and waste, while also giving rise to new processes that improve on those metrics. For the workforce, data can empower workers to make more informed decisions, automation can eliminate repetitive tasks, and technologies like augmented and virtual reality can enhance training and upskilling.

To learn more about these and other insights, download the full white paper here.

Press Releases

Manufacturers Unveil Competitiveness Agenda Ahead of Midterm Elections

“Competing to Win” offers a path for bringing the country together around policies, shared values and a unified purpose

Washington, D.C. – Ahead of the midterm elections, the National Association of Manufacturers released its policy roadmap, “Competing to Win,” a comprehensive blueprint featuring immediate solutions for bolstering manufacturers’ competitiveness. It is also a roadmap for policymakers on the laws and regulations needed to strengthen the manufacturing industry in the months and years ahead.

With the country facing rising prices, snarled supply chains and geopolitical turmoil, manufacturers are outlining an actionable competitiveness agenda that Americans across the political spectrum can support. “Competing to Win” includes the policies manufacturers in America will need in place to continue driving the country forward.

“‘Competing to Win’ offers a path for bringing our country together around policies, shared values and a unified purpose,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. “The NAM is putting forward a plan filled with ideas that policymakers could pursue immediately, including solutions to urgent problems, such as energy security, immigration reform, supply chain disruptions, the ongoing workforce shortage and more. Manufacturers have shown incredible resilience through difficult times, employing more workers now than before the pandemic, but continued resilience is not guaranteed without the policies that are critical to the state of manufacturing in America.”

The NAM and its members will leverage “Competing to Win” to shape policy debates ahead of the midterm elections, in the remainder of the 117th Congress and at the start of the 118th Congress—including in direct engagement with lawmakers, for grassroots activity, across traditional and digital media and through events in key states and districts as we did following the initial rollout of the roadmap in 2016.

The document focuses on 12 areas of action, and all policies are rooted in the values that have made America exceptional and keep manufacturing strong: free enterprise, competitiveness, individual liberty and equal opportunity.

Learn more about how manufacturers are leading and about the industry’s competitiveness agenda at nam.org/competing-to-win.

-NAM-

The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 12.8 million men and women, contributes $2.77 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and accounts for 58% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org

Business Operations

Manufacturers Are Getting Tough on Cybersecurity

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More companies are taking a disciplined approach to the growing threat of cyber attacks, according to a new cybersecurity survey from the Manufacturing Leadership Council. The MLC is the digital transformation arm of the NAM.

  • The survey, which included input from 160 companies, indicates a dramatic change in how seriously manufacturers consider cyber threats compared to 2018, when the MLC last conducted the same survey.

Who’s prepared: Nearly 62% of manufacturing companies say they have a formal cybersecurity plan in place, according to the survey.

  • That’s up from 2018, when barely 33% of manufacturers indicated they had devised and adopted formal cybersecurity plans that encompassed their plant floors.
  • Nearly 40% of respondents said they had a high level of confidence in their internal cyber expertise, compared with just 25% who expressed such certainty in 2018.

More attacks expected: Yet even as better cybersecurity strategies are put in place, nearly 79% of survey respondents said they expect more attacks in the next year.

  • That figure is up from 64% in 2018.
  • The most frequently cited reasons for this prediction are increased levels of cyber crime and cyber terrorism and greater connectivity in manufacturers’ operations.

The effects on digital transformation: More than half the survey respondents expressed concern that cybersecurity issues could affect the speed and scope of digital transformation.

  • 14% said cybersecurity could be a major obstacle in the next five years, with another 40% describing it as “an issue of concern.”
  • Close to half—43%—said they consider cyber a part of doing business in a digitally transformed world.

Proactive measures: More manufacturers are taking advantage of publicly available safeguards, such as the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, to underpin their strategies.

  • Nearly 58% of respondents said they have adopted the NIST framework, up from 48% in 2018.
  • 45% said they have cyber insurance, compared to the 18% that said they had it in 2018.

The coming challenge: In the past four years, manufacturers have made significant strides to combat the growing problem of cyber attacks against the industry.

  • However, manufacturers will need to stay a step ahead of cyber criminals as the number and sophistication of attacks increases.

See the survey: Review the survey findings for an in-depth look at how manufacturing leaders are thinking about cybersecurity in manufacturing’s digital era.

Get help: NAM Cyber Cover was designed specifically to provide enhanced risk mitigation and protection for manufacturers and their supply chains. Find out more at www.namcybercover.com.

Press Releases

Every Manufacturer in America Will Benefit from the CHIPS and Science Act

Timmons: Manufacturers thank congressional leaders from both parties who got this bill across the finish line and President Biden and Secretary Raimon

Washington, D.C. – Following President Biden’s signing of the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons released the following statement:

“Every manufacturer in America will benefit from the CHIPS and Science Act, whether they make chips, make products that require chips or are part of a supply chain disrupted by the semiconductor shortage.

“Manufacturers thank congressional leaders from both parties who got this bill across the finish line and President Biden and Secretary Raimondo for their leadership. The industry will also benefit from the new law’s funding for programs to support the STEM workforce, advanced technology development, excavation of critical minerals, clean energy and more.

“Without a doubt, this legislation boosts manufacturers’ competitiveness. But there’s work to be done. Congress must continue its work on China competition legislation and move forward on policies from the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act and the America COMPETES Act that were left out, such as anti-counterfeiting measures, important trade provisions and further investments in supply chain resilience and workforce development.

“Our economic future and America’s leadership in the world depend on a competitive manufacturing industry. Congress has acted wisely with the CHIPS and Science Act. Now we need Congress to continue standing with manufacturers and focus on policies that will help us compete with China and other countries, not make it more expensive to make things in America.”

-NAM-

The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 12.8 million men and women, contributes $2.77 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and accounts for 58% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.

Practical Insights

Manufacturers: Legislation Is a Bold, Important Step Toward Ramping Up the Domestic Manufacturing of Essential Inputs

Timmons: Every manufacturer will benefit. But there is more to be done.

Washington, D.C. Following the House’s passage of the CHIPS-Plus Act, National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons released the following statement:

“This legislation is a bold, important step toward ramping up the domestic manufacturing of essential inputs used by virtually every part of our industry. Every vote for the CHIPS-Plus Act was a vote for a more competitive manufacturing industry in America. This bipartisan legislation shows that Congress is taking the problems of supply chain disruptions and inflation seriously. Every manufacturer will benefit. But there is more to be done.

“Once President Biden signs it into law, manufacturers will work with lawmakers to build on the momentum and continue our advocacy for important measures that did not make it into the final CHIPS-Plus legislation, including trade measures, anti-counterfeiting protections and other workforce development priorities.

“But if lawmakers are truly serious about competing with China, they will now oppose the tax increases and attacks on pharmaceutical innovation in the latest reconciliation bill proposal, which will certainly lead to continued inflationary pressures. Congress should stay focused on bipartisan solutions, not legislation that weakens our economy and makes us less competitive with other countries.”

-NAM-

The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 12.8 million men and women, contributes $2.77 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and accounts for 58% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org

Press Releases

Manufacturers: CHIPS-Plus Act Will Deliver a Powerful Boost to Manufacturers’ Competitiveness

Timmons: It’s encouraging to see this Congress once again come together in a bipartisan way to make critical investments in our industry’s competitive

Washington, D.C. Following the Senate’s passage of the CHIPS-Plus Act, National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons released the following statement:

“The CHIPS-Plus Act will deliver a powerful boost to manufacturers’ competitiveness. Manufacturers across all sectors rely on access to chips, so this bill will help strengthen American supply chains thanks to its investments in domestic semiconductor production—as well as its funding for programs to support the STEM workforce, advanced technology development, excavation of critical minerals, clean energy and more. Manufacturers have worked with lawmakers for more than a year to advance many provisions of this bill, and we urge the House to pass it as quickly as possible and get it to President Biden’s desk.

“CHIPS-Plus should only be the beginning, however. We will continue advocating policies needed to beat back economic headwinds such as inflation and supply chain disruption. And we will work with Congress to move quickly on policies from the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act and the America COMPETES Act that were left out of CHIPS-Plus, such as anti-counterfeiting measures, important trade provisions and further investments in supply chain resilience and workforce development.

“It’s encouraging to see this Congress once again come together in a bipartisan way to make critical investments in our industry’s competitiveness and our country’s future. Manufacturers look forward to building on this progress. This and future China competition legislation will help us to innovate, create jobs, expand domestic operations and grow the U.S. economy for years to come.”

-NAM-

The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 12.8 million men and women, contributes $2.77 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and accounts for 58% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org

Press Releases

NAM Launches Six-Figure Television Ad Campaign Opposing Reconciliation

NAM Urges Senate to Vote “No” on Government Price Controls That Harm Manufacturers

Washington, D.C. – The National Association of Manufacturers has launched a six-figure broadcast and cable television advertising campaign ahead of a potential reconciliation bill that threatens manufacturing innovation and competitiveness. The campaign calls on senators to oppose government price controls that would undermine the development of lifesaving medicines and the livelihoods of manufacturing workers across America who deliver them.

“Government price-setting schemes that undermine our ongoing work to develop lifesaving cures to diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s and respond to health crises are never the answer,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. “At a time when manufacturers are already facing extraordinary economic pressures, the Senate should be focused on bolstering our industry’s competitiveness, not undermining it. We are calling on senators to vote ‘no’ on reconciliation and stand with manufacturers and the hardworking Americans who are integral to battling this pandemic and discovering future cures.”

To view the latest television ad, click here.

-NAM-

The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 12.8 million men and women, contributes $2.77 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and accounts for 58% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.

Press Releases

Manufacturers Back Chips Bill, Call for Further Action from Congress

Timmons: “A vote for the CHIPS Act funding is a vote for a stronger, more competitive manufacturing industry in America.”

Washington, D.C. – Ahead of consideration of legislation to bolster U.S. semiconductor manufacturing, National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons released the following statement:

“A vote for the CHIPS Act funding is a vote for a stronger, more competitive manufacturing industry in America. But if Congress fails to pass this investment in the coming days, they will hand other countries a competitive advantage and weaken our own economy at a precarious moment.

“Other provisions of the China competition bill still under negotiation also need to make it to the president’s desk, and manufacturers firmly support their inclusion in this package. We will continue our advocacy for the anti-counterfeiting measures, trade provisions, supply chain investments and more. Congress must get those done.

“This week, we can take a powerful step forward with chips funding and move toward a future where semiconductor shortages—and the disruptions they’ve created—are a thing of the past. Other nations are not waiting around to ramp up semiconductor manufacturing. America should be leading, not falling behind.”

Background:

According to the NAM’s latest Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey, more than 88% of respondents said it was important for the federal government to take steps to support the domestic manufacturing sector in the face of increased global competition for industrial investment, with nearly 58% saying “very important” and 30.7% saying “somewhat important.” When asked about what aspects of the China competition legislation were most important for supporting manufacturing activity, the top choices were addressing port congestion and competition issues in ocean shipping (70.9%), eliminating ill-conceived labor provisions that facilitate unionization campaigns (61.3%), strengthening U.S. leadership in energy innovation and competitiveness (58.2%), funding to increase domestic semiconductor production capacity (57.9%), investments to support the critical minerals supply chain (55.7%) and ensuring the tax code provides a full deduction for research expenses (48.3%), among others.

-NAM-

The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 12.8 million men and women, contributes $2.77 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and accounts for 58% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.

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