The NAM is pushing back on a proposed “book tax” that would significantly raise taxes and penalize manufacturers for undertaking job creating investments across the country.
What it is: Included in the Build Back Better framework, the book tax imposes a 15% minimum tax on the financial statement — or book income — on corporations with over $1 billion in profits. The provision would be effective for tax years beginning after December 31, 2022.
Why it matters: Imposing a book tax would create a mandatory parallel tax system separate from the current corporate tax system—one that would deny accelerated depreciation (i.e. 100% bonus depreciation) that serves as a powerful pro-growth tool for manufacturers by reducing the after-tax cost of long-lived capital equipment purchases. Under a book tax such purchases would be deducted based on their useful lives.
- According to data from the nonpartisan Joint Tax Committee, the manufacturing sector leads all other sectors in the use of bonus depreciation, meaning that imposing a tax like this would disproportionately impact manufacturers.
What we’re saying: “Employing more than 12 million people who make things in America, paying employees nearly 24% more than the average for all businesses and having the largest economic impact of any major sector, the manufacturing industry has been helping to lead the economic recovery,” said NAM Vice President of Tax and Domestic Economic Policy Chris Netram. “However, imposing a book tax would not only undermine the recovery but also make it harder for the next manufacturing dollar to be spent in America, negatively impacting growth in family-supporting American manufacturing jobs.”
What we’re doing: The NAM is urging Congress to oppose the inclusion of a book tax in reconciliation legislation.
As manufacturers continue to lead America’s economic recovery, they’re doing so in the face of a real—and avoidable—challenge. Because Congress has failed to act, manufacturers in the United States have been operating without a Miscellaneous Tariff Bill since January, which has led to higher prices, greater difficulty in competing with businesses overseas and harm to American workers.
The context: The MTB temporarily eliminates tariffs on imported materials that are either not made in the United States at all or are not available in sufficient quantities. It boosts American competitiveness and ensures that U.S.-made products are competitive with products manufactured outside of the country.
- Typically, the MTB is reauthorized every few years. In 2018, Congress unanimously passed the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill Act of 2018, which reauthorized the MTB through 2020. Unfortunately, the bill expired at the end of last year, and Congress has failed to act, leaving manufacturers in the United States paying extra taxes of $1.3 million per day on vital products that are not available in this country.
What’s happening now: While the Senate passed MTB legislation in June 2021 as part of the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, the House still needs to act. If the House doesn’t pass bipartisan MTB legislation soon, manufacturers, their workers and their communities will continue to face unnecessary additional costs—as both Dow and Element Electronics have.
Impact on manufacturers in the U.S.: Manufacturers like Dow are feeling the impact. As prices increase for everyone, manufacturers are also battling rising costs, which makes it difficult to manage cost-effective production and impacts the ability to sustain and expand opportunities for American workers.
- “For Dow, the MTB supports as many as 6,000 jobs across the United States, from Michigan and Texas to Illinois, Kentucky and beyond,” said Eric Friedman, the senior director of federal government affairs at Dow. “Dow is the largest materials sciences company in North America. It is critical for us to ensure that we have competitive access to our essential inputs for our U.S. operations and can manage costs It speaks directly to our U.S. manufacturing competitiveness and the incredible workforce that drives innovation.”
Meanwhile, the tariffs also create higher prices for consumers, making it more difficult for Americans to purchase goods from U.S. companies.
- “The MTB’s expiration has reverberations across multiple product lines that Americans use every day, from textiles to cosmetics to cleaning products and insulation,” said Friedman. “These value chains are inextricably tied together. Rising costs for chemicals impacts the 96% of manufacturing downstream that uses our products to make finished goods for both U.S. and global markets. Making our supply chains cost competitive through MTB also supports our consumers who need to manage their costs.”
The harm to small business: For television producer Element Electronics, headquartered in Winnsboro, South Carolina, the lapse of the MTB has caused a significant readjustment, forcing them to downsize their business and lose workers.
- “As a result of the lapse in the MTB…Element has gone from operating at full capacity and over 520 team members at the end of  to operating just four lines, and employment has dropped to 370 team members,” said David Baer, chief operating officer and general counsel at Element Electronics, in recent congressional testimony.
For Element, restoring the MTB is an urgent matter that would help them compete with companies overseas and reengage with consumers across the country and around the world.
- “Leveling the playing field through retroactively restoring the MTB…will allow Element’s employees to once again successfully compete against anyone,” said Baer. “Moreover, passing this bipartisan legislation will allow Element and many other companies to get back to doing what we do best—employing hundreds of hard-working Americans in good-paying jobs in a community that relies on Element as one of its primary sources of economic growth.”
What we’re saying: “The Miscellaneous Tariff Bill supports manufacturers and their workers who make things in America and who have been instrumental to America’s economic resurgence,” said Ali Aafedt, director of trade facilitation policy at the NAM. “Amidst a global pandemic, severe supply chain shortages and other hurdles, Congress’ lack of action on the MTB is yet another challenge. Congress has the opportunity to support manufacturers, workers and consumers in the United States by passing bipartisan MTB legislation by the end of the year.”
The human side of digital transformation was on full display at a recent virtual plant tour of BASF Chemical Intermediates Geismar, Louisiana, facility. Hosted by the NAM’s Manufacturing Leadership Council, the tour gave participants an inside look at how the company is using Voovio’s enhanced-reality technology to transform employee training.
Who they are: BASF Chemical Intermediates, a division of German multinational chemical manufacturer BASF, makes approximately 600 distinct products sold worldwide to the chemical, plastics, agricultural and consumer goods industries, among others.
What is Voovio? The company has partnered with simulation-software maker Voovio to design a customized training solution for its employees: a virtually accessible digital replica of the BASF plant.
- Using a computer or other digital device, employees can select plant components such as valves, pumps and control panels to get a detailed view of each. These components respond and perform virtually the same way they would in real life.
- Using the software, trainees can click on any piece of equipment in any workflow to see how it fits into each process.
Why use it? BASF wanted to make worker training faster, more interactive and more self-directed so employees could learn new skills and review existing ones more quickly and easily.
Scalable training model: The tailorable Voovio software offers different training-module levels based on each worker’s experience level and skills.
- Training modules include an equipment replica, tasks to be performed and an action checklist for completing a series of tasks.
- Employees get feedback from the software as they perform each virtual procedure, letting them know whether they’ve performed a task correctly.
Real-world application: Voovio also lets companies take the training into the production facility. Using an approved digital device, employees can perform test runs at any time to ensure they’re prepared to complete a job on the ground.
The verdict: BASF has already begun to reap the benefits of the software. Since implementing Voovio, it has seen a marked increase in both worker competency and productivity.
Sign up for a virtual plant tour: Don’t miss the MLC’s upcoming tour of Johnson & Johnson’s facilities on Wednesday, Dec. 1, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. EST. You will see how Johnson & Johnson uses mobility tools, advanced robotics and material handling, as well as adaptive process controls to drive improvements. After the tour, stay for the panel discussion on how to scale advanced manufacturing technologies to ensure a sustainable, reliable and adaptable product supply chain. Sign up today!
The NAM is urging Congress to scrap a proposed set of tax changes that would harm pass-through entities, including many manufacturers.
The proposal: As Congress continues to hammer out President Biden’s reconciliation bill, members of the House and Senate have been floating new taxes to help pay for the package. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) has released one set of proposals that would change pass-through tax policy in order to raise an estimated $172 billion over 10 years.
The problem: The proposals from Sen. Wyden’s committee could create a series of challenges, including:
- Discouraging partnership formation: The proposal would mandate a complex method for tracking gains and losses, which would likely prevent some partnerships from forming in the first place by making the process more onerous and less rewarding.
- Confusion for existing partnerships: The proposal would make retroactive changes to existing partnerships, creating unnecessary complexity and confusion for pass-through organizations that are already conducting business.
- Barring legitimate transactions: The proposed rules would present some obstacles that are tougher than those imposed on corporations, making it difficult for pass-throughs to conduct legitimate business.
Why it matters: Pass-through entities account for millions of employees and billions of dollars in capital investment. The current structure of pass-through partnership law offers manufacturers a critical way to start and maintain a business—especially for small and medium-sized manufacturers. Altering the tax rules for pass-throughs could change that calculation.
What we’re doing: The NAM has communicated with the committee and will be doing significant outreach to educate Congress on the impact of these proposed rules and to help find the best solutions for a fairer tax code.
What we’re saying: “If enacted, these proposals could discourage new business formation, stifling entrepreneurship, investment and growth,” said NAM Vice President of Tax and Domestic Economic Policy Chris Netram. “The increased complexity in the tax code would be particularly onerous for small and medium-sized manufacturers who could be forced to divert resources from operations to tax compliance.”
Introductions to manufacturers, an immersive-experience walkthrough and panel discussions with local leaders—the West Columbia, South Carolina, tour stop of the Creators Wanted Live mobile experience had all that and more.
Last week’s series of events marked the second stop on the tour’s six-city cross-country jaunt designed by the NAM and its workforce development and education partner, The Manufacturing Institute, to inspire and educate future manufacturers. The events brought out public figures, including South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, South Carolina Lt. Gov. Pamela Evette and South Carolina Secretary of Commerce Harry Lightsey, as well as business leaders, including Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation President, CEO and Owner Lou Kennedy, Trane Technologies Plant Manager Gregg Krick and South Carolina Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bob Morgan.
Among the activities in the three-day West Columbia stop were:
- Creators’ “Office Hours,” where students had a chance to meet team members at Trane Technologies, Honda and Nephron Pharmaceuticals and learn more about working at these companies and in modern manufacturing;
- Creators Conversation, in person and broadcast live on Facebook, where students and teachers from West Columbia and around the country gained insights into how to pursue a manufacturing career; and
- Tours of the mobile experience for students from local schools, including Longleaf Middle School, Lexington 2 Innovation Center, Brookland-Lakeview Empowerment Center, Lake Marion High School and Technology Center and New Hope Leadership Academy. Afterward, representatives from Nephron, Trane Technologies and Honda talked to students about the opportunities available in manufacturing, and PTC demonstrated the possibility of augmented reality.
See the stop: Photos and videos from the West Columbia events show how much energy was in the air. Below, attendees at the premier event pose in front of the mobile experience:
NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons wraps up the kickoff event with some inspiring personal stories.
High-school students show their excitement after touring the mobile experience.
Families get to the final room of the mobile experience together and are stopped in their tracks by the PTC augmented reality technology, which helps students and parents understand the career paths in manufacturing.
Students hold up cards that show how long it took them to complete the challenges in the Creators Wanted Tour Live mobile experience. They’re pretty speedy—a great sign for their future careers!
And last, students talk about the impact the tour is making, showing that perceptions are changing thanks to Creators Wanted.
The reach: These photos only capture a fraction of the excitement and activity surrounding the tour. All in all, approximately 500 students participated in the West Columbia Creators Wanted Tour Live events last week. More than 16,000 students, parents and others interested in manufacturing careers in South Carolina signed up to follow the Creators Wanted campaign online, and the broadcasted Creators Conversation reached more than 1,000 people on the opening day of the tour stop.
Telling tweets: Political and business leaders also championed the tour on social media.
Gov. McMaster applauded Nephron Pharmaceuticals and Creators Wanted for showing jobseekers the many opportunities available in manufacturing:
The Creators Wanted campaign and @NephronPharm are showing our young people and job seekers how to take the first steps into the manufacturing industry.
Thank you, Lou Kennedy, for showcasing all of the opportunities that are available in this growing industry. pic.twitter.com/GPItTXS5dq
— Gov. Henry McMaster (@henrymcmaster) October 20, 2021
Lt. Gov. Evette posted about her visit to Creators Wanted and shared some photos …
What a fantastic day joining with @NephronPharm, @ShopFloorNAM, and @TheMfgInstitute for the ceremonial kickoff and celebration of the Creators Wanted Mobile Experience National Tour. pic.twitter.com/desbUrFljQ
— Pamela Evette (@PamelaEvette) October 21, 2021
… while Nephron Pharmaceuticals posted some photos of Secretary Lightsey in the mobile experience and thanked him for visiting.
Thank you @SCcommerce Secretary Harry Lightsey for visiting Nephron!@Lulunephron was pumped to give the secretary a preview of @ShopFloorNAM @TheMfgInstitute Creators Wanted workforce development exhibit! pic.twitter.com/GcvPfeLp7X
— Nephron Pharmaceuticals (@NephronPharm) October 19, 2021
And NAM Vice President of Brand Strategy—and Chief Strategist for the tour—Chrys Kefalas caught some serious excitement about manufacturing:
Best part of last week: hearing from the students how excited they were by the #CreatorsWanted experience & about their newfound interest in manufacturing. It kept happening. Makes you feel like this campaign is about their future, instead of just an industry’s. #WeWontStop pic.twitter.com/F6ObigYhyH
— Chrys Kefalas (@CKefalas) October 25, 2021
“What we witnessed on the ground was exactly what we were hoping to achieve,” said Kefalas. “Student after student kept saying they learned a lot and—and this is big—want to go work for Nephron Pharmaceuticals and Honda and other modern manufacturers like Trane Technologies. A high school athlete told me ‘this is the place’ when talking about Nephron. Teachers said to us ‘lights went on.’”
Media responds: News outlets far and wide reported on the West Columbia tour stop and the Creators Wanted project in general.
- CNN interviewed Timmons.
- Locally, coverage included stories by WACH FOX 57, WSPA 7 News, WBTW News 13, Columbia Regional Business Report, Carolina News (the campus news network for the University of South Carolina), The Lexington Ledger and the Lexington County Chronicle, as well as repeated media hits across all Fox, ABC, NBC and CBS affiliates.
- Op-eds by Trane Technologies Executive Chair and NAM Board Chair Mike Lamach and Kennedy in the Greenville News and by Morgan in The Post and Courier rounded out the media blitz.
The final say: The Creators Wanted Tour Live is as timely as it is educational, MI Executive Director Carolyn Lee said last week. With more than 900,000 jobs open in manufacturing, the tour “is part of a larger campaign that couldn’t come at a more important time for manufacturing and this country.”
This week, the Creators Wanted Tour Live continued to disseminate its timely message: Manufacturing jobs are rewarding, well-paying and fun—and perhaps now more than ever, they need qualified people to fill them.
The tour, a project of the NAM and its workforce-development partner, The Manufacturing Institute, is on its second stop in West Columbia, South Carolina, through today. South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster stopped by on Wednesday, and yesterday, some more big names turned out to greet students, parents and teachers and talk about the nation’s need for more creators.
Big challenge: “The challenge is truly significant,” MI Executive Director Carolyn Lee said at the event. “We have over 900,000 jobs open in manufacturing today.”
- Creators Wanted, the program of which the mobile experience is a part, aims to help close the skills gap through the recruitment of 600,000 workers by 2025, Lee said.
- Creators Wanted also seeks to increase by 25% the number of students enrolled in technical and vocational education and upskilling programs.
Big reward: NAM board member and Nephron Pharmaceuticals Owner and CEO Lou Kennedy, host of the West Columbia tour stop, actively recruited the job seekers in the audience.
- “What I hope you’ll learn from your experience as you go through this super-cool truck behind me is that manufacturing is a new way to make money, and great money,” Kennedy said, gesturing to the Creators Wanted mobile experience. “The average wage at Nephron is over $73,000 a year, so these are great-paying jobs.… We hope that you’ll be inspired today to join us or join my friends at other companies across South Carolina.”
“The first option”: South Carolina Lt. Gov. Pamela Evette echoed Kennedy’s hopes for the event’s audience—and said that perceptions about manufacturing and technical career paths are changing for the better.
- “Going to technical school is not a second-tier option anymore,” Lt. Gov. Evette said. “It is the first option for most of the students coming out of high school.… Thank you for being here today. Your eye is on the prize, and the prize is manufacturing here in South Carolina.”
A place for everyone: South Carolina Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bob Morgan and Trane Technologies plant manager Gregg Krick underscored the health of the manufacturing sector in South Carolina.
- “The state of manufacturing in South Carolina is strong,” Morgan said.
- Said Krick, who “start[ed] on the plant floor” at heating, cooling and ventilation-system maker Trane Technologies, “If you’re wondering if manufacturing is the place for you, take it from me—there is a place for you in manufacturing.”
The last word: Rounding out the program was NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons, who reiterated the need for applicants in manufacturing—and shared an anecdote from his family history.
- During the Great Depression, “my grandfather left his family farm and … stood in line every day for six months” to get a manufacturing job. He finally landed one due, Timmons said, to sheer perseverance.
- “Today you don’t have to do that,” Timmons said. “You can look around and see what jobs are most exciting to you, and you can fill out an application and you can get hired.… According to the MI and Deloitte, we will have 4 million manufacturing jobs to fill between now and 2030.… These aren’t just numbers—these are opportunities. Manufacturing jobs are opportunities to earn not just a great living with excellent benefits; they’re also an opportunity to have fun.”
In the news: The second stop of the tour continues to receive widespread attention, with Fox 57 capturing student and teacher reactions to the campaign.
If you can buy anything online, how can you make sure that what you’re buying is genuine?
That’s a problem facing consumers and manufacturers alike. According to the NAM’s research, fake and counterfeit products cost the United States $131 billion and 325,000 jobs in 2019 alone—and estimates suggest that global trade in counterfeits exceeds $500 billion per year. The explosive rise of counterfeit goods has heavily impacted manufacturers, requiring them to fight back on a range of fronts.
For Clint Todd—the chief legal officer at Nite Ize, Inc., a manufacturer of mobile, pet and key accessories, as well as hardware, lighting and other products—that challenge is very real and only getting worse.
“In 2019, we took down 75,000 counterfeit listings and websites,” said Todd. “And we’re a small business, so you can guess how large the problem is countrywide.”
Why it’s happening: First, the online nature of e-commerce makes it more difficult to ensure accountability. Many counterfeit products are purchased through third-party sellers that may or may not provide real contact information.
- In practice, many platforms have not been held liable for counterfeit products sold on their platforms by these third-party sellers, even as they facilitate their sale. That means there’s often little manufacturers can do beyond asking the platforms to remove the listing.
- Second, a large proportion of the sellers of counterfeit goods are located in China and Hong Kong, making it much more challenging for U.S. companies to bring effective lawsuits, even if they do have accurate seller contact information.
“You have this odd confluence of laws and tech development and the involvement of another country that has driven this exponential increase in counterfeits,” said Todd. “You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see how the inability to fight the problem has been detrimental to U.S. businesses.”
How manufacturers respond: Manufacturers and others have been forced into a piecemeal strategy that includes using software tracking services to find fraudulent trademarks and images; working with third-party sites to remove listings for knockoff merchandise; bringing lawsuits against counterfeiters where possible; and coordinating with the International Trade Commission. That strategy is challenging for lots of manufacturers but is particularly hard on small and medium-sized companies that may have fewer resources yet can be devastated when their products are ripped off.
What we need: The NAM’s report, “Countering Counterfeits,” details solutions for the federal government and the private sector, including:
- Requiring e-commerce platforms to reduce the availability of counterfeits;
- Modernizing enforcement laws and tactics to keep pace with counterfeiting technology;
- Streamlining government coordination;
- Improving private-sector collaboration; and
- Empowering consumers to avoid counterfeit goods.
As Todd put it, “It’ll take a multi-stakeholder approach. It’s not just the government. It’s not just manufacturers. It’s not just the online platforms. It has to be a coordinated approach with all those stakeholders to get to the heart of the matter.”
What the NAM is doing: The NAM is leading the effort against counterfeiting and has already made significant headway with policymakers. Among its recent highlights:
- After years of NAM advocacy, the Department of Homeland Security has implemented the Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act of 2018, which steps up screenings for international mail shipments—one way in which counterfeits get into the U.S.
- In late 2020, Congress also implemented several NAM recommendations, including bolstering federal oversight at U.S. ports; cracking down on scammers and other bad actors exploiting the pandemic by producing fake goods or engaging in price gouging; and allowing the FDA to seize and destroy dangerous counterfeit medical devices.
- Both the Senate and House have seen the introduction of bipartisan bills that incorporate NAM recommendations on addressing the sale of counterfeits through online platforms.
The last word: “People need to understand the scope of the problem and how pervasive it has become,” said Todd. “Everyone needs to know how often counterfeits and knockoffs are affecting U.S. companies and how expensive and difficult it is to combat the problem with the tools we have at our disposal now.”
The NAM is fighting against congressional efforts to increase the minimum tax on U.S. companies’ foreign earnings above the rate recently reached by a global minimum tax deal—thereby putting globally engaged manufacturers at a significant disadvantage.
The context: For a number of years, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has been leading global tax negotiations that would fundamentally reshape the current international tax system. A centerpiece of the effort is a 15% global minimum tax that more than 130 countries signed off on earlier this month. The deal is intended to be implemented in 2023.
The U.S. angle: The United States already has a global minimum tax, called the global intangible low-taxed income tax, or GILTI, which operates as a minimum tax on the foreign earnings of U.S. multinational corporations. Now, Congress is considering increasing it as part of the reconciliation legislation. In particular, the pending House reconciliation bill would increase the GILTI rate from the current 13.125% tax rate to 17.4%—above the proposed global minimum tax rate.
The problem: The NAM has made clear that the United States shouldn’t move forward with any changes to GILTI before other countries implement a minimum tax, and that the U.S. shouldn’t have a minimum tax regime that results in a higher tax burden than the rest of the world. Such a burden on globally engaged companies would make it more difficult for these companies, including manufacturers, to compete and succeed in the global marketplace.
What we’re saying: “If Congress adopts a harsher tax regime than the rest of the world, it would tilt the scales against manufacturers and manufacturing workers in the U.S.,” said NAM Vice President of Tax and Domestic Economic Policy Chris Netram. “A harsher regime would harm manufacturers, reducing their ability to compete around the world and invest in high-paying jobs here at home.”
Learn more: One NAM study showed that proposed harmful changes to the GILTI regime could cost up to 1 million U.S. jobs.
One small component is creating big delays in global supply chains: the ubiquitous semiconductor or chip. These components are not only essential to our phones, laptops and other electronics, but to the production process in just about every sector of the manufacturing industry. So, what would help us produce more of these desperately needed parts? According to Birlasoft Vice President and Global Business Head of Communications, Media & Technology Nitesh Mirchandani, the answer is cloud computing.
Why the shortage? As COVID-19 unfolded, millions of consumers purchased new laptops, smartphones, game consoles and other devices as they spent more time at home. This shortfall was compounded by the existing high demand for chips brought on by the growth in smart products—everything from thermostats and appliances to robot vacuum cleaners and GPS-enabled dog tags. COVID-19 also caused a wave of semiconductor factory closures that also exacerbated the problem. The result? A shortage that industry experts say could last through 2022.
Why the cloud? Cloud computing is the on-demand delivery of resources like data storage, software, networking and other services via the internet. Users either purchase a set subscription or pay by their level of usage—both cheaper and more flexible options than maintaining an on-site IT team for all needs. Cloud computing has several advantages for semiconductor manufacturers, according to Mirchandani:
- It speeds up time to market through swifter design and development. Because they can be accessed anywhere, cloud services enable teams to connect and collaborate more easily. Development cycles become quicker as teams connect better internally and with other parts of the business, including partners and suppliers.
- It enables data-driven business decisions. Thanks to the faster processing and analysis of cloud computing, manufacturers can get instant information on things like factory performance, supply disruptions or customer demand. Likewise, workers can be alerted to a machine that needs maintenance or to potential defects in materials or products.
- It provides service continuity. Internal IT teams often have limited resources. Cloud infrastructure is managed by specialists who can ensure uninterrupted service, so in-house IT teams don’t need to continuously maintain software through updates and patches.
Why it matters: Semiconductor shortages threaten to drag down the economy just as recovery is getting underway. Businesses rely on chip-enabled technologies for creating products, managing operations and maintaining the flow of goods and services. Consumers rely on them for smarter, safer homes and connections to work or school. Unless chip manufacturers can shore up production to meet demand, the ripple effect will create added distress for many sectors of the economy.
The Manufacturing Institute’s Heroes MAKE America hasn’t let COVID-19 slow it down. To the contrary, it has expanded and added new features in 2021 in order to prepare more members of the military community for manufacturing careers.
“The work we’re doing aligns so well with what our manufacturers are prioritizing,” says MI Vice President of Military and Veterans Programs Babs Chase. “We are continuing to serve a community that has sacrificed so much and will continue to sacrifice. We truly appreciate the manufacturers that are standing beside us.”
Growth during a pandemic: Heroes, which works with local technical colleges to provide certification and career-readiness preparation, increased its impact in the past year and has now placed graduates with more than 250 companies in 42 states.
- Training programs at Fort Riley in Kansas, Fort Hood in Texas, Fort Bragg in North Carolina and Fort Campbell in Kentucky continue to grow, and Heroes will soon launch a new training site in Georgia.
- In August, Heroes graduated the first class of its new Fort Hood mechatronics training program, which combines electrical and mechanical engineering and computer technology with advanced manufacturing.
Going virtual: This month, thanks to the support of the Caterpillar Foundation, Heroes is officially launching a fully remote training program in a synchronous model that will incorporate hands-on simulations using virtual reality.
- The new program is a partnership with Texas State Technical College and New York City–based tech startup TRANSFR, and will allow transitioning service members, veterans and military spouses to participate in Heroes regardless of their physical location—so long as they have access to Wi-Fi.
Connecting with Heroes: 2021 is also the second year of Heroes Connect, the program’s direct response to COVID-19. This virtual platform facilitates introductions between the manufacturing industry and military-community members seeking jobs.
- In-person tours have always been a cornerstone of the Heroes program, and Heroes Connect provides another avenue for those essential introductions to manufacturing leaders and veterans already in the industry. Even as Heroes restarts in-person tours, Heroes Connect will remain a vital part of the initiative, says Chase.
As she put it, “Heroes Connect is continuing to break down barriers around physical location, showcasing manufacturers all across the country for Heroes participants as well as the greater military community.”
Diversity data: By the end of 2021, more than 625 students will have graduated since Heroes’ inception in 2018. These students are as diverse as the career opportunities available in manufacturing:
- The graduates represent more than 136 different military occupational specialties.
- Nearly half of all graduates (47%) come from minority populations.
- Approximately 16% are women.
- Only 47% of alumni have any post-secondary education.
- Forty-one percent of graduates were in the military for 10 years or more.
Success stories: The Heroes program boasts too many success stories to recount in one place, but here are just two:
- Former U.S. Marine Zachary Willis came to Heroes after health issues led to his departure from the military. “It’s been amazing,” said Willis, who earlier this year began a manufacturing job at Hodgdon Powder Company. “The ability to reach out and connect with other employers all around the country—from smaller companies to huge international corporations—is something you don’t see in very many places. I wish more people took advantage of programs like this.”
- Then there’s Hugo Hinojosa, who served 22 years in the U.S. Army before starting the Heroes program. He now works as a business partner in the human resources division of WestRock Company, and says, “I’m working in a place where the values are in line with what I was brought up with in the military—integrity, respect, accountability and excellence.”
The final say: “For our team, serving the military population is crucial,” Chase said. “But equally vital is our service to manufacturers—and they recognize the value that this population brings to their teams.”