Tomorrow night in Portland, Congressman Mike Michaud plans to present President Obama with a pair of Maine-made New Balance sneakers and urge him to require the Defense Department to comply with current law and outfit servicemembers with domestically produced footwear. Tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m., Michaud will visit New Balance's Norridgewock facility located on Depot Street to pick up the sneakers and tour the facility, which recently hired a number of new employees. Members of the media are invited to join.
"Politicians love to talk about what they're doing to create jobs," said Michaud. "But this is one concrete change that could be made right now to create jobs here in Maine. I look forward to seeing the President tomorrow to urge him to make the Defense Department comply with current law and provide American-made footwear to our servicemembers. Taking this action would be consistent with the President's stated goals of boosting the U.S. manufacturing sector."
Michaud introduced the "American Shoes for American Servicemembers Act," which would clarify that the Berry Amendment has always and continues to apply to footwear. The Berry Amendment law has been on the books for decades and requires the Department of Defense (DOD) to buy certain categories of products from American companies. Michaud hopes the sometimes lengthy process of passing a bill isn't necessary, because the President has the authority to order the Department of Defense to comply with the law.
Michaud, Chairman of the House Trade Working Group, is also working to ensure that the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement does not undermine the American footwear industry. New Balance holds the distinction as the only athletic shoe company that currently manufactures footwear in the U.S. The company has over 800 employees at their Maine facilities in Skowhegan, Norridgewock, and Norway.