There's a simple line all Granite Staters take pride in reading: "Made in New Hampshire." Those four words are known around the world as the hallmark of quality products, made by people who genuinely care about their work.
We have witnessed a big shift in the manufacturing sector in recent years. Though no longer dominated by traditional mill work, manufacturing is still important to New Hampshire. Our fellow Granite Staters make many things we use every day: computers, electronics and appliances (plus the components that run them), plastic and rubber items, food and beverage products, fabricated metal products, machinery and much more.
Manufacturing is important to New Hampshire's bottom line, too. The National Association of Manufactures reports total output was $6.8 billion in 2009, accounting for 11.5% of the total Gross State Product.
The economic downturn hit these jobs hard, and this important sector is far from recovered. New Hampshire Employment Security reported 65,800 manufacturing jobs in March -- down from 77,300 in 2008.
That is one reason why I am in the process of hosting a three-part Manufacturing Job Summit series, as part of my ongoing "Getting Granite Staters Back to Work" jobs initiative. I sat down and listened to manufacturing leaders recently at the first two Summit meetings in Portsmouth and Laconia. I strongly believe the best way to help create job is by listening to what local job creators want -- not doing what politicians think they need.
Too often, Washington takes the latter approach. I heard over and over how federal bureaucrats are choking New Hampshire manufacturers with red tape and overregulation. It's tough enough for manufacturers to deal with a sluggish economy and overseas rivals; they must also contend with regulators who are hampering their ability to compete with an increasing burden of intrusive rules flooding out of Washington.
On top of that, New Hampshire's manufacturers tell me they face another serious challenge: a workforce with the skill sets necessary for growing this sector into the 21st Century. As the production process becomes increasingly computerized and automated, the people who keep it running need to know about technical automation and process control, computer programming, robotics, and much more. It's a new world, and workers with new skills are needed to keep it moving forward. We need to get beyond the outdated thinking that says a technical education is of less importance than a college degree. A college education isn't always the best option for every young person; we should encourage those who are interested in examining a technical career in the manufacturing sector as well.
There is a great opportunity for manufacturing leaders and education officials to work together to make that happen.
I will be holding my third and final Manufacturing Job Summit in Manchester on June 13th. Afterward, I will take the information gathered from all three of these very productive sessions, and then apply it in my work in Congress. I will fight with increased determination to cut through the reams of red tape as manufacturers are demanding, and I will be talking with people here in New Hampshire about ways to further develop an appropriately-educated, modern workforce. And as always, I will tell you more about it later on.
I am excited by the rebirth of manufacturing that's underway in New Hampshire. I will keep doing everything I can to help job creators in this sector expand and return the good, middle-class jobs we all want and which our economy needs.
I look forward to reporting back to you in two weeks on the latest developments in Washington. In the meantime, if I can be of service to you, or if you want to share your thoughts, suggestions or concerns with me, please call either my district office in Manchester at (603) 641-9536 or my Washington office at (202) 225-5456, or contact me through my website at www.Guinta.House.Gov. You can also follow what I'm doing 24/7 on Facebook at www.facebook.com/repfrankguinta and on Twitter at @RepFrankGuinta.
Until next time, please know that I am always on your side and am actively fighting for New Hampshire's interests in Washington.