127 days – 18 weeks – from now kicks off American Manufacturing Week. The week of October 2 -9 is when we celebrate the critical contribution manufacturing makes to just about every facet of the American economy and culture. It is a week to celebrate the incredible tradition manufacturing holds in our country, and to raise a few alarm bells about our fragile future.
The selection of the week and the efforts to turn it into a period in which every American is inundated with stories and information on manufacturing's place in our history, culture and economy was not made by Congress or any other government body. It is 'grass roots' in its purest form. I am merely the scribe for a group of manufacturing leaders, writers and proponents who collectively share deep pride in our manufacturing past, and deep concern for our ability to continue to hand down that tradition to our children and grandchildren.
There is no agenda – other than the one you, as manufacturing professionals, set. There is certainly a political element to it, and the selection of a week exactly one month before the national elections was hardly a coincidence. We hope that you can help through your participation in town hall meetings, letters to the editors of your local papers, and by any other means you can conjure up in an effort to pin down evey candidate for office on how he or she stands on the issues so critical to manufacturing competitiveness – trade, taxes, environmental regulations and the rest.
Just as important is our presence in the educational process. We hope it will be a week in which manufacturing professionals are visiting schools and talking to kids from kindergarten to grad school about the realities of modern manufacturing, its heritage and the limitless possibilities a career in manufacturing holds for them.
In short, you define the issues and you define the means of telling manufacturing's story in your community. The hope – the request – the plea – is only that everyone do something during that week to convey the manufacturing story outside your plant walls and into your community.
During the coming weeks I will be pulling together an online repository of information – a place for you to go to get ideas, facts and information to use as a resource for writing letters to the newspapers, penning articles of your own, issuing press releases and pulling together presentations for the schools. It is not a coincidence that the week corresponds to manufacturing week in Canada. We hope that the noise we make spills across the border to help them make their case, and that their efforts enhance ours.
It is not too early to begin thinking about how you can play a part. The goal is to get all 300 million of us talking about, and thinking about, manufacturing and how vital it is to us all during that week. Tune in for weekly updates as we move toward the big week. It's going to be a lot of fun.