A new nationwide campaign to persuade state and local governments to use American manufacturing companies for infrastructure projects kicks off this week.
Sponsored by the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM), the "Should Be Made in America" campaign features outdoor and digital advertising and online activism to urge the use of American-made components for infrastructure projects financed with U.S. tax dollars.
The AAM launched the movement at the new San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, a massive construction project that was outsourced to a Chinese firm at the cost of American manufacturing jobs, with two large billboards featuring the flag of the People's Republic of China and the words "The Bay Bridge/100% Foreign Steel."
AAM's Executive Director Scott Paul said the campaign is designed to spark changes in federal, state and local procurement policies by engaging the American public with practical ideas about how taxpayer money should be spent to rebuild our nation.
"The problems with the Bay Bridge project could have been avoided if California officials had made it in America," Paul said. "Instead, the project is costing American jobs, undermining California's environmental goals, and facing numerous delays."
There’s now a need to repair trillions of dollars in crumbling infrastructure– including nearly $500 billion in California alone – over the next decade, and Paul believes those projects must be given to U.S. firms.
"It's time for our politicians to believe in American workers," said Paul, adding that awarding those projects to American companies would provide a much-needed economic boost. "Any of our leaders willing to outsource jobs to China could find one of our billboards next to their shiny new project."
Efforts are under way to enhance "Buy America" preferencesat both the federal and state levels. Last year, U.S. Representative Nick Rahall introduced the Invest in American Jobs Act of 2011 to strengthen Buy America requirements for transportation and infrastructure projects; last week, the U.S. Senate unanimously adopted an amendment to improve the effectiveness of existing Buy America preferences for transportation projects while also closing loopholes.
In addition, 20 states are considering passing or have recently passed legislation to provide preferences for American steel and manufactured goods in state-level procurement.
"At a time when unemployment is still over 8 percent, we can't afford to ship more manufacturing jobs to China at taxpayer expense," Paul said.
The Alliance for American Manufacturing is a nonpartisan, nonprofit partnership forged to strengthen manufacturing in the United States.
Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance business and technology writer who has worked in public relations and spent 10 years as a newspaper reporter. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cbrooks76.