Innovation and Technology

Business Operations

How Quantum Computing Reorganized a Pier

It might be hard to believe, but there are “more possible staff solutions than particles in the universe” for the typical factory, according to D-Wave Vice President of Quantum Business Innovation Murray Thom.

Yet thanks to quantum computing—or computers that employ the effects of quantum mechanics to operate more quickly and efficiently—D-Wave can help its customers solve this sort of knotty problem, whether they are trying to organize pallets, piers or people.

We spoke to Thom recently about the advantages of quantum as well as one of the company’s big successes, a collaboration with software company SavantX to increase the efficiency of Pier 300 at the Port of Los Angeles. Here’s what he had to say.

The future of computing is hybrid: When does it make sense to look beyond classical computing methods and add in quantum? As Thom explained, “Classical computers have to break things down into simpler steps—addition and multiplication.”

  • However, a lot of logistical problems involve immense complexity. For example, let’s say you have boxes of components that must be shipped all over the country at different times. Thom puts it, “This box is going on this truck or that truck, [and that decision] affects other decision-making. It’s that cascade that makes this difficult for classical computing.”
  • By contrast, quantum computers can take a huge volume of possible solutions, compare them all quickly and come up with a usable schedule.
  • Marrying classical with quantum computing—called quantum-hybrid technology—provides the best of both options and delivers robust solutions, said Thom.

The Port of LA: In 2018, SavantX was hired to improve the efficiency of Pier 300, which processes millions of containers every year.

  • To juggle the many factors involved—trucks, containers and cranes that load the containers—and to model their movements inside a confined space, SavantX would need a lot of computing power. That’s why it brought in D-Wave.
  • SavantX modeled the whole system using a digital twin of the pier, Thom explained. The digital twin allowed SavantX to run all types of simulations, some of which would never occur in the real world.
  • Quantum-hybrid technology was then used to “ingest the whole problem” and configure it all at once “like a Rubik’s cube”—simulating an impressive 100,000 cargo-handling runs to find the best algorithm.
  • And thanks to D-Wave’s proprietary cloud platform, no one at SavantX had to get “a degree in quantum physics,” Thom added. Instead, “the platform let them configure a solution, while D-Wave handled the complexity.”

The solution: SavantX discovered that the key to greater efficiency was repositioning the rubber-tire gantry cranes.

  • By reorganizing the trucks’ pickup times to match when the RTGs were available, and by distributing the containers more widely around the yard, SavantX greatly decreased waiting times.
  • This solution resulted in “a 60% improvement in the amount of cargo they were handling, and a reduction in truck turnaround time of 12%,” Thom said.

Working with quantum: As quantum computing is still a new resource in the logistics and manufacturing industries, Thom explained to us how he works with new customers.

  • First, he often talks to customers for an hour or more at the first meeting, to get a handle on how they understand the problem from the inside.
  • The company’s work is “really about adapting the technology to suit the industrial challenge,” not the challenge to suit quantum computing, he explained.
  • Next, D-Wave goes through “a discovery process, building out proof of concept and answering the high-level question,” Thom said. After that, its team “can build formulations and software for businesses to operate on their own systems, putting those quantum-backed applications into production.”

What’s next? D-Wave has a number of manufacturing-related projects in the works, spanning factory optimization, improvements in construction efficiency, carbon emission reductions and more. These include:

  • A collaboration with ArcelorMittal to improve steel coils, and another with Johnson & Johnson to optimize the packing of pallets.
  • A project with DENSO, an auto parts manufacturer, that aims to improve the safety of autonomous vehicles.

The last word: While quantum computing may sound both complicated and intimidating, “What people are delighted to find out is that it’s no more complex to use than any other technology,” Thom said.

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Policy and Legal

Timmons Gives NAM State of Manufacturing Address

Manufacturing has a leading role in the U.S. economy—but there is still a great deal more to do. That was the message at this year’s NAM State of Manufacturing Address from NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons.

Timmons spoke to a gathering of manufacturing team members and the media at Husco in Waukesha, Wisconsin. In his remarks, he laid out the NAM’s view of where the industry is and where it’s going.

The program: The event began with a message from Kurt Bauer, president and CEO of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, followed by an introduction from NAM board member Austin Ramirez, president and CEO of global engineering and manufacturing company Husco.

  • “Wisconsin manufacturers contribute to the vitality of our state through their innovation, productivity and commitment to customer satisfaction,” said Bauer. “While we face many challenges, we are also in the enviable position of controlling our destiny—as long as we work together to create a shared vision of prosperity and an action plan to achieve it.”
  • “We are here to shine a light on the amazing, life-changing work that manufacturers do every day,” said Ramirez. “We are the backbone of the American economy, and we are proud of it.”

The state of manufacturing: Timmons spoke about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the importance of the manufacturing industry’s support for the Ukrainian people and the larger struggle between freedom and tyranny.

  • “Despite everything happening around us, like the threat of a recession and global conflict, manufacturers are still leading the way forward,” said Timmons.
  • “And although our industry and our country will need to make audacious and sometimes uncomfortable changes to adapt to economic, political and global challenges … I’m confident in reporting that the state of manufacturing in America remains steadfast and resolute.”

Manufacturing solutions: Timmons cited a variety of manufacturing challenges, then detailed the NAM’s plans to fight for manufacturers across the United States.

  • Supporting immigration: “For so many manufacturers in America right now, there are more open jobs than there are people to fill them,” said Timmons. “One of the many ways we fill those jobs and keep our economy moving is welcoming immigrants into our workforce … just like we have in the past to build a stronger, more prosperous America.”
  • Promoting permitting reform: “Permitting reform means making it easier to get permission to build that new road or power plant, or for manufacturers to build new facilities,” said Timmons. “If Washington could just cut through the bureaucracy and streamline processes, like you do in your businesses every single day, we could do more for this country.”
  • Fighting for tax fixes: “The NAM is determined to get Congress to restore incentives for R&D and get our business tax rates and structure back on track to enable us to compete globally,” he said. “And then, let’s lock in competitive rates for small businesses … so that you can plan confidently for the future.”
  • Competing with China: “If we’re going to counter China, then we must hold China accountable for the trade commitments it has already made to the U.S.,” said Timmons. “And we have to forge ambitious, cutting-edge trade agreements with our allies. Other countries aren’t waiting around. So, let’s think big. And let’s be bold.”
  • Pushing back on new EPA rules: “We’re going to tell the EPA that manufacturers are already leading [in cleaning] our air,” said Timmons. “The government shouldn’t enact rules that, however well-intentioned, would make it more difficult to achieve our environmental goals, slow our economic growth and push us closer toward recession.”

The last word: “History shows us that as long as manufacturers lead the way, America and our democracy will remain that beacon of freedom and hope for people around the world,” said Timmons. “Manufacturers have been, and always will be, in word and deed, the arsenal of democracy. And working together, I know we will keep making this a manufacturing decade.”

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WATCH: 2023 State of Manufacturing Address

Presented by Jay Timmons, President and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers, the 2023 State of Manufacturing Address was given from Husco International in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Special remarks were given by Kurt Bauer, President and CEO, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce. Special thanks to Husco President and CEO Austin Ramirez and his team for hosting this year’s address.

Read the official remarks here.

We’re hitting the road. This year’s NAM State of Manufacturing Address officially kicked off the 2023 leg of the NAM’s Competing to Win Tour. The tour will continue to spotlight the industry’s rapid transformation, while also focusing on manufacturing’s well-paying careers, diverse workforce and real-world solutions for the industry’s continued growth.

Upcoming stops: Waukesha and Pewaukee, Wisconsin (Tue, Feb 21); Fishers, Indiana (Wed, Feb 22); Harahan and Avery Island, Louisiana (Thurs, Feb 23)


Policy and Legal

Why Policymakers Should Support—Not Hinder—R&D

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This story can also be found within the NAM’s R&D action center.

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.”

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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.”
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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.

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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


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

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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

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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.”


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

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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.”


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

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