Manufacturing Institute Takes on Second Chance Hiring

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The Manufacturing Institute—the workforce development and education partner of the NAM—is partnering with the Charles Koch Institute to expand second chance hiring opportunities in the manufacturing industry.

What is second chance hiring? One in three Americans possess a criminal record. Without being offered a “second chance” at a stable job, many in this sizable talent pool are excluded from the workforce.   

Why it matters: The manufacturing industry has more than half a million jobs open right now and will need to fill 4 million over the next decade. Second chance programs not only increase equal opportunity and diversity in the industry but are also a key tool for building manufacturing’s future workforce.

What we’re doing about it: The MI’s initiative, funded by a grant from the Charles Koch Institute, will offer resources and expertise to help employers make the best use of second chance hiring. These resources will include roundtable discussions and webinars, C-suite leadership events, case studies, a pilot program and original research for the manufacturing industry.

The MI says: “Second chance hiring gives businesses an opportunity to welcome highly motivated, engaged, productive and loyal new team members that may otherwise be overlooked,” said MI Executive Director Carolyn Lee. “This is not only the right thing to do for our businesses, but it’s also the right thing to strengthen our communities.”

  • “This partnership enables the MI to educate manufacturers in America on second chance hiring best practices and help them utilize second chance hiring as a strategy to fill open jobs. This effort will also expand our Diversity and Inclusion initiative that’s critical to the future health and success of the industry.”

A real-world example: Nehemiah Manufacturing Co., a consumer-product manufacturer in Cincinnati, has a workforce of about 180 employees—about 80% of whom have criminal records, according to The Wall Street Journal (subscription). These employees serve in all sorts of positions, including leadership roles, from production to fulfillment and more.

  • “We found that the population we were hiring who had criminal backgrounds were our most loyal people,” Nehemiah President Richard Palmer told the Journal. “When we were looking for people to work overtime, come in on Saturday or go that extra mile, it was the second-chance population that was saying, ‘I’m in.’”

The last word: “One of the biggest barriers to successful reentry for those with a record is lack of employment opportunities,” said CKI Executive Director Derek Johnson. “If we truly want to reduce recidivism and increase public safety, all while empowering those returning to our communities to contribute at their fullest potential, we need to expand second chance hiring opportunities. CKI is proud to join this partnership to scale that impact and expand second chance hiring across more employers.”

Business Operations

Lilly Invests in the Health of Marginalized Communities

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Eli Lilly is working with a new venture capital firm to help underrepresented communities receive better health care.

The project: Lilly has invested $30 million in a partnership with Unseen Capital Health Fund LP, a newly formed venture fund built by racially diverse business leaders that is intended to identify and support early-stage minority-owned health care companies. The group hopes to fund up to 50 companies and raise a total of $100 million—and with Lilly’s support, it’s well on the way.

The fund will focus especially on health equity, digital innovation and the social determinants of health. Underrepresented founders often have firsthand knowledge of the limitations of the traditional health care system, as Unseen Capital’s general partner Kayode Owens told Bloomberg (subscription).

Why it matters: Black Americans and other people of color have long suffered significant disadvantages in health care—and have done so again during COVID-19. People of color are also underrepresented in pharmaceutical and other health-related industries, as well as among venture capital firms that could improve the situation. Unseen aims to change the fates of “unseen” communities, by combining the expertise of racially diverse investors with the insight of underrepresented founders.

Other efforts: In addition to the partnership with Unseen Capital, Lilly has also taken a range of measures to help promote racial justice, including by expanding diversity in clinical trials; working with other major companies through the OneTen coalition to hire, train and advance Black Americans into 1 million jobs; and doubling Lilly’s spending with diverse suppliers.

Lilly says: “Driven by unprecedented innovation, health care is attracting record levels of investment. To unleash the full potential of innovation in our sector, historically underrepresented founders need to receive more growth capital,” said Philip Johnson, Lilly’s senior vice president and treasurer. “With this capital, these founders can catalyze systemic change while improving health outcomes for society. Providing our financial and knowledge resources to Unseen Capital is an opportunity for Lilly to be an agent for change in a way that is authentic to our purpose and culture.”

Unseen says: “Solving for equitable health care is the challenge of the 21st century,” Owens told Bloomberg. “While Covid-19 laid bare the inequities of our health-care system, George Floyd’s killing laid bare the inequities of our justice system. We need to bet on underrepresented founders to be the agent of that change.”

The NAM’s commitment: In June, the NAM Executive Committee unanimously approved a Pledge for Action intended to close the opportunity gap by taking 50,000 tangible actions to increase equity and parity for underrepresented communities. The initiative is supported by The Manufacturing Institute. Make your commitment here.

Business Operations

How to Talk to Employees About Vaccines

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As the U.S. vaccine rollout expands to nearly all adults, manufacturers are figuring out how to encourage workers to be vaccinated. To help them, the NAM and The Manufacturing Institute are providing resources and advice through their This Is Our Shot project. Most recently, the project hosted a webinar to help employers frame conversations about vaccines, called Employer COVID-19 Vaccine Communications: Do’s and Don’ts. Here are some of the highlights.

The participants: The webinar was hosted by NAM Vice President of Brand Strategy Chrys Kefalas, the NAM lead of the This Is Our Shot project. It featured Ann Searight Christiano, director of the Center for Public Interest Communications at the University of Florida, and Jack Barry, a postdoctoral research associate for the University of Florida’s Center for Public Interest Communications.

Why communication matters: “The vaccines are becoming widely available and so people are really at a point where they no longer have to wait. It’s time,” said Christiano. “But as employers, you have a great deal of influence and trust with your employees and are well positioned to help build their trust and encourage them to get those vaccines.”

What to think about when you talk about vaccines: According to Christiano and Barry, there are eight factors to think about when developing vaccine communications: worldviews, timing, messengers, narratives, relationships, social norms, emotions and motivations. Christiano and Barry recommend taking people as they are—and responding to their particular identities and values.

Think about who and when: The timing and the messengers are extremely important. National health professionals are far more trusted on pandemic advice than celebrities, for example. People generally want messengers from their own communities, too. Think of the “influencers” in your workplaces—the respected leaders, the trusted employees—and consider using them in your campaigns, say Christiano and Barry.

The message itself: Use specifics to show how important it is to get vaccinated, such as that vaccines allow you to travel or hug your grandparents. And use the themes of choice, regret and control—often cited by vaccine hesitators—and frame them in a positive way to increase vaccine uptake.

Things to avoid: Don’t amplify people’s concerns and avoid appeals to unpleasant emotions like shame and fear, the researchers advise. Consider instead using pleasant emotions like pride, joy and parental love. Consider the motivations of the messenger, too. Be transparent and honest about why you want people to get vaccinated.

The last word: “Our role is to help all manufacturers get fact- and science-based information to safeguard workplaces and communities and to help end this pandemic. We’ll continue hosting webinars, curating the most effective tools available and deploying other research-proven resources at,” says Kefalas.

For more details on how to create communications for your employees, check out the whole presentation here.

Policy and Legal

Tax Increases Would Cost a Million Jobs

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NOTE: The lead sentence was revised to better reflect the full scope of the NAM’s study, which includes corporate tax increases recently proposed by the Biden administration, as well as other tax increases and changes to the tax code under consideration.

Corporate tax hikes and other tax reform rollbacks under consideration could lead to 1 million fewer jobs in the first two years, according to a new study conducted by Rice University economists for the NAM.

The calculation: Economists John W. Diamond and George R. Zodrow calculated the effects of increasing the corporate tax rate to 28%, increasing the top marginal tax rate, repealing the 20% pass-through deduction, eliminating certain expensing provisions and more.

The costs: The researchers found that these changes would cause large negative effects for the economy. The worst of these would include:

  • 1 million jobs lost in the first two years;
  • By 2023, GDP would be down by $117 billion, by $190 billion in 2026 and by $119 billion in 2031; and
  • Ordinary capital, or investments in equipment and structures, would be $80 billion less in 2023 and $83 billion and $66 billion less in 2026 and 2031, respectively.

The study also notes the following:

  • Investments in intangibles, or “firm-specific capital,” are highly mobile and more sensitive to marginal tax rate changes. Such investments would fall 2.7% by year two and would be down a total of 3.8% by year five.
  • The average annual reduction in employment would be equivalent to a loss of 600,000 jobs each year over 10 years.
  • Real wages would fall by 0.6% in the long run, and total labor compensation, including wages and benefits, would decline by 0.6% initially before falling by 0.3% after 10 years. In the long run, total compensation would also decline by 0.6%.

The NAM says: NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons said in response to the study, “Manufacturers want to help President Biden achieve his goal of creating jobs in America and strengthening the supply chain so that our country does not face critical shortages, especially during times of national crises.”

  • “As we slowly emerge from the economic catastrophe caused by COVID-19, American businesses are at a pivotal point in our nation’s history. Manufacturers can, and should, lead the economic recovery in the wake of the pandemic. But this study tells us quantitatively what manufacturers from coast to coast will tell you qualitatively: increasing the tax burden on companies in America means fewer American jobs.”

Alternative solutions: The NAM strongly supports President Biden’s focus on bold infrastructure investment, which can be achieved through a combination of revenue sources like those identified in its policy blueprint “Building to Win.”

Business Operations

For One Manufacturer, Vaccination Is a Personal Cause

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At Gilster-Mary Lee Corporation—a food manufacturer headquartered in Chester, Illinois—the impact of COVID-19 is deeply personal. In April 2020, their CEO, Don Welge, passed away due to the virus.

“It was a time when there was not a lot known about the virus,” said CEO Tom Welge, who is Don’s son. “He was very much the spirit of the company, and we found ourselves without him at a time when demand was blowing up for groceries as everybody began staying home and the supply chain was starting to be disrupted. It was a very challenging year, and we were without our captain.”

A year later, that heartbreaking experience has made Welge especially supportive of the nationwide vaccination campaign and motivated to get his company’s workers vaccinated. He spoke to us recently about Gilster-Mary Lee’s methods for overcoming vaccine hesitancy and its efforts to run its own vaccine clinics.

Reducing vaccine hesitancy: The company is taking a multistep approach to help employees become comfortable with vaccination—from disseminating the NAM’s materials and fact sheets to coordinating with state and local health associations to creating its own informational products. But the most critical piece, according to Welge, is communication.

  • “Probably the most important thing is consistent messaging and conversations,” said Welge. “We engaged our managers to make sure they were on board, and then we asked them to go out and evangelize the teams that they work with.”

Open engagement: “You’ve got to be open to answering questions that people have about the vaccine, and not belittle any questions that are brought to you,” said Welge. “At the end of the day, it’s still a decision that an individual has to make—and all we can do is point out all the advantages.”

Vaccination stations: Gilster-Mary Lee isn’t only encouraging its employees to receive the vaccine; the company is also bringing the vaccine directly to them by setting up vaccination clinics at its facilities—a process that was no small feat.

  • “You make a lot of calls—you find the right person to talk to at a health care agency or a pharmacy and have a friendly conversation,” said Welge. “We are all aligned on what the mission is: we want to get as many doses to as many people as possible. If you show that you are somebody who will do whatever it takes to make this work, they’ll say let’s work with these guys.”

Pictures at a vaccination: NAM Director of Photography David Bohrer captured one of Gilster-Mary Lee’s vaccination events on April 1. The county health department sent over staff to give the Moderna vaccine to more than 150 workers at the company’s Perryville, Missouri, facility.

Here is Perry County Registered Nurse Amy Hector filling a shot from a vaccine vial:

Workers who are coming off an overnight shift or starting their day shift get vaccinated:

A nurse wears a pro-vaccine shirt in the picture below—sending the right message!

And last, getting your first vaccine dose is definitely worth smiling about. Here’s Gilster-Mary Lee employee Claudia Bohnert showing off a new Band-Aid where she received her first shot.

The bottom line: Welge is adamant in his support of vaccinations. As he puts it—and tells his employees—“This is a decision that protects you, protects your family and protects your coworkers.”

Timmons says: NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons said about Welge’s efforts, “Having lost my father to COVID-19, I know what the Welge family has endured. And I know how it strengthens your resolve to see everyone get vaccinated. No one should have to feel the immense pain of losing a loved one to COVID-19. And thankfully, now with the vaccines, we can protect all of our loved ones.”

Business Operations

How Manufacturers Put Together 17 Vaccination Events

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You could say this was just another supply chain challenge for Marlin Steel Wire Products President and Owner Drew Greenblatt—a matter of getting the right materials to the right people at the right time. Except in this case, the right materials were COVID-19 vaccines, the right people were more than 3,300 manufacturing workers at 81 companies, and the right time was ASAP.

Greenblatt organized a coalition of Maryland manufacturers interested in hosting their own vaccination events, which required liaising with government officials and partnering with local pharmacies. The companies will host 17 events at their facilities, bringing in pharmacy employees to administer Pfizer vaccines.

First time: This grand plan went into motion last week, with the first vaccination events held on March 31. More than 120 essential manufacturing employees from Marlin Steel (a wire products and metal fabrication firm), Orlando Products (a disposable and reusable packaging maker) and Arnold Packaging (a producer of packaging and containers) got their shots at the Orlando facility. Meanwhile, a second event took place at the facility of spice manufacturer McCormick for that company’s employees.

NAM Director of Photography David Bohrer attended the Orlando event, capturing the vaccinations in progress. Here is a pharmacy worker explaining the COVID-19 shot record card to an employee who just got his first dose:

And here’s Hector Carmona of Marlin Steel receiving his shot:

Behind Marlin Steel employee Jake Dieter, you can see other employees waiting the required 15 minutes after they receive their vaccinations (in case of adverse reactions).

And last, here’s a McCormick employee celebrating her vaccination with a pharmacy employee (this photo was taken by McCormick staff at the company’s event).

How they did it: To help other manufacturers who might be interested in hosting vaccination clinics, Greenblatt explained to us how he planned the events.

The entire process took just under two months, beginning in late January. Greenblatt sprang into action once essential manufacturing workers became eligible for vaccinations in Maryland. Seeing his employees struggle to get appointments, he decided to work with other companies to make things easier for manufacturing workers. This is how they did it:

  • First, a project manager at each company assembled a list of “critical” employees who wished to be vaccinated.
  • Out of 8,000 employees, they built a spreadsheet of 3,300 essential manufacturing workers who were not vaccinated and were willing to receive the shots.
  • At the request of the Maryland governor’s office, Greenblatt’s coalition partnered with Giant, Safeway and Rite Aid to get the vaccine. He jumped at the opportunity to work with efficient private-sector partners, as opposed to a patchwork of county governments. This allowed the coalition to move much more quickly—and to nail down the supply of the vaccine much faster.
  • Once all the pharmacies and companies were committed, everything moved very quickly. The companies were warned that they had to be ready to vaccinate “at the drop of a hat,” so once the vaccination dates were confirmed, they coordinated with each other and the pharmacies directly to get workers where they needed to go.

The coalition has had the enthusiastic support of the Maryland government throughout its efforts. Gov. Larry Hogan, whose office was instrumental in arranging the vaccination events, will attend one of them in person in the coming days.

The last word: “We got it done. A mass inoculation blitz of 3,300 essential manufacturing workers in Maryland are getting the vaccine in 17 locations over the next couple days,” said Greenblatt. “Governor Hogan led the charge to make sure our food processing, medical products manufacturing and defense workers are protected against COVID-19. This leadership will keep our nation safe.”


Why a Navy Machinist Chose a Manufacturing Career

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Derek Read always knew he wanted to join the Navy, and he enlisted after high school—rising to become a machinist’s mate responsible for maintaining, repairing and running the ship’s engine as well as corresponding machines and equipment. However, when it came time to find his next career nine years later, he wasn’t sure what to do—until his research turned up the The Manufacturing Institute’s Heroes MAKE America program, which helped Read translate the skills he already had into a modern manufacturing setting.

  • “It’s definitely been enlightening,” said Read. “For the most part, I had the mechanical background and most of the skills, but HMA bridged the gap and gave me some technical expertise, as well as the extensive knowledge and certifications needed to get hired by a manufacturing company. Overall, it’s been an amazingly positive experience.”

One-on-one: Some of Read’s most valuable experiences were his meetings with executives and hiring officers at different manufacturing companies.

  • “One of the greatest things they’ve given us is facetime with manufacturing company VPs, HR representatives and recruiters,” said Read. “They allowed us to get a better understanding of what was out there and what companies were looking for. Facetime like that is hard to come by unless you’re doing a specialized program like this, and it’s worth a lot.”

What’s next: Today, Read is fielding a few different job interviews, which he received via LinkedIn after Heroes helped him create his profile on the site. “Without HMA, I probably wouldn’t have been approached by those companies,” said Read.

Paying it forward: When asked what advice he’d give to other transitioning servicemembers considering the Heroes program, Read didn’t hesitate. “That’s easy—you’d be crazy not to take advantage of an amazing opportunity like this,” said Read. “The HMA program is outstanding. Take advantage of programs like this one, and don’t wait. Different manufacturing companies have a vast array of jobs. There’s definitely a job out there for you.”

From a distance: What makes Read’s enthusiasm all the more compelling is that he experienced the entire program remotely. But with the help of some virtual reality tools, he was able to participate without missing a step.

  • “The VR goggles—that was amazing,” said Read. “I’ve never played with VR before. It’s almost like a video game. The training and tool seminars—I got to play with different tools and interact with the VR, doing measurements, calibrating equipment and going over parts of the manufacturing facility. It was a lot of fun to play with.”

That kind of substantive learning in an engaging environment is what the Caterpillar Foundation will bring to more heroes in the coming years, thanks to its new $2.25 million donation designed to help Heroes MAKE America increase its integration of virtual reality technology and expand training opportunities for the military community.

The last word: As Caterpillar Chairman and CEO Jim Umpleby said when the partnership was announced, “Caterpillar is proud of the support provided to veterans and their families through the Caterpillar Foundation’s donation to the Heroes MAKE America program. I am pleased the Foundation can help make this world-class skills training program available to all members of the global military community and connect them to careers in manufacturing.”

Business Operations

NAM and MI Launch Yellow and Red Ribbon Initiative

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The NAM and The Manufacturing Institute are launching the Yellow and Red Ribbon Initiative today to encourage vaccinations against COVID-19. Here’s what you need to know to get involved.

What it means: The ribbon is designed with two colors: yellow, which shows that we support one another, and red, which signifies that we care for one another. Wearing or displaying yellow and red ribbons is intended to serve as a sign of support for COVID-19 vaccination and a signal that you have been personally vaccinated.

Why do it: “It’s the same philosophy behind ‘I Voted’ stickers,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. “Seeing that others have been safely vaccinated sends a powerful message to those who have not yet made the decision to get their shot.”

What you can do: You can wear the ribbon to work or out in public, or in your social media profile pictures. If you’re an employer or run a vaccination site, you can make the ribbons available to those who get their shot.

How to get your pins: The NAM and the MI are producing yellow and red pins to distribute to workers, families and communities and have developed tools such as bilingual social media, email and newsletter copy and posters to support distribution.

  • Bulk orders can be made online here. The NAM and MI are also encouraging a grassroots effort in communities nationwide, urging people to make ribbons at home, find them online or locate them at a craft store.

What we’re building on: Getting manufacturers and Americans their COVID-19 vaccines is a key step toward ending the pandemic. See how the NAM and MI are working to get that done through its “This Is Our Shot” project.


What It Takes to Manufacture a Vaccine

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You may not know it, but one company has the capacity to manufacture bulk drug substance for more than a billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines annually: Emergent BioSolutions, a global supplier for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and U.S. supplier for the AstraZeneca vaccine. Emergent Executive Vice President of Manufacturing and Technical Operations Sean Kirk spoke with us recently to explain what goes into the heroic production of all these doses—in other words, what it takes to help defeat COVID-19.

How the vaccine works: The complexity begins with the vaccines themselves, which are amazing feats of bioengineering. The two vaccines have broadly similar structures, though they are made by separate, quarantined production lines in the Emergent facility. (As Kirk says, you can’t even take a wrench from one production suite to the other.)

You can think of this type of vaccine as a sort of beneficial Trojan Horse:

  • Particles of a virus called an adenovirus, which usually causes cold and flu-like symptoms, are engineered to hold the DNA of SARS-CoV-2 (the official name of the coronavirus)—and to not be infectious themselves.
  • Those adenovirus particles enter your cells and program them to produce a component of SARS-CoV-2 called a spike protein.
  • That process provokes an immune response, teaching your system how to defeat the real COVID-19.

So how do you make it? As you might guess, making such a precise vaccine is itself a complicated and delicate process.

  • You need to make a lot of modified adenovirus particles very fast, while ensuring they aren’t infectious and can deliver their payload of SARS-CoV-2 DNA.
  • To cut a long story very short, the production process involves “infecting living cells [with the modified adenovirus] and turning them into virus factories,” as science writer Derek Lowe says.

Where Emergent comes in: Emergent handles the manufacturing process, which results in something called “bulk drug substance,” Kirk explains.

  • “Our facility produces the high concentration active pharmaceutical ingredients, the viral vectors themselves,” he says. “Then we freeze them down and ship them out to what’s called a fill/finish facility, which dilutes the concentrate and fills vials or syringes with it.”

The numbers: That concentrate will eventually become part of the 100 million Johnson & Johnson doses and 300 million AstraZeneca doses purchased by the U.S. government.

What it takes: Kirk gave us a glimpse of just how much effort went into getting ready for a new vaccine.

  • 6 or 7 months: That’s all Emergent had, for a process that normally takes years. Consider how much goes into it, Kirk says: ordering equipment, getting that equipment to work correctly and comply with regulations, “working out the kinks from the complex biological manufacturing process”—and then scaling it up and optimizing it to make large quantities of vaccines as quickly and safely as possible.
  • 800 new jobs: Emergent had to increase hiring, adding approximately 800 new jobs in 2020, many of which were dedicated to COVID-19 response across three Maryland sites.
  • Group effort: Emergent works incredibly closely with Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca, along with the U.S. government and the company’s own suppliers. “We have leveraged U.S. government rated orders to get access to critical raw materials and equipment. We’ve depended upon certain suppliers, who were likewise rallying to the cause, to really step up and ramp up their overall capability and capacity,” says Kirk.

Why can’t you go faster? Kirk says he gets this question all the time and wants to impress upon readers that these are very complex biologic manufacturing processes.

  • “They are highly regulated, highly technical and have to be highly reproducible,” he continued. “We are growing living cells and then we are infecting them with these viral vectors.”
  • Furthermore, everything that Emergent produces must have the same characteristics of the product used in the clinical trials—“that’s the essence of biologic vaccine development,” Kirk says. “That’s the only way you can ensure safety and efficacy.”

The last word: Kirk tells us what he tells his employees: “It’s unbelievably difficult, more difficult than anything I’ve done in my entire career. But I can’t think of a more awesome opportunity to leave an indelible mark on the course of human history. We are going to help return a degree of normalcy to society. We’re going to help reunite families, open up economies and put a smile on children’s faces when they go back to school. And that’s an honorable and amazing thing.”

This article is the first in an exclusive four-part series on Emergent’s accelerated production efforts.

Policy and Legal

NAM Pursues Free and Fair Policies on China

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NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons sent a letter to President Biden on Wednesday urging the president to develop and implement a post-pandemic strategy regarding the U.S. relationship with China.

Why it matters: As the letter notes, China has signed new trade and investment agreements with a variety of nations in Europe and Asia over the past few months, increasing pressure on the United States to engage in a thoughtful and effective way to preserve America’s influence worldwide. But the U.S. relationship with China is also both delicate and complex, requiring the U.S. to challenge China in some areas even as we work to collaborate in others.

A combative adversary: “For manufacturers, China has long been a hub for unfair industrial subsidies and government-fueled overcapacity in areas like steel and aluminum that distort global markets. China continues to promote discriminatory industrial policies, forced technology transfer and intellectual property theft that harm manufacturers and workers in the United States. Increasingly, China is also using global institutions and its economic influence to build alliances that challenge American interests, human rights and democratic values.”

An important partner: “Yet, China will also be a key player in tackling global challenges that matter for manufacturers, from COVID-19 to climate change. And China is a major destination for U.S. exports, with nearly $90 billion in manufactured goods going there in 2020, placing it behind only Canada and Mexico in the ranks of our biggest trade partners and supporting hundreds of thousands of well-paying U.S. manufacturing jobs.”

The big picture: “America’s strategy must reflect the realities of the moment and the future: as we take stock of new post-pandemic realities, China will be a necessary partner, a fierce economic competitor and a major rival challenging American global influence.”

Read the whole thing for a list of the NAM’s policy proposals.

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