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July 7, 2013

Amendment gives boost to local footwear manufacturing


“Based on the demand we see now, it would create up to 200 jobs, and a large number of those would be in Lawrence,” LeBretton said.

Wolverine World Wide, based in Rockford, Mich., makes brands including Saucony, Patagonia, Hush Puppies and Keds.

The 1941 rule, called the Berry Amendment, requires that uniforms and other equipment made of textiles purchased by the military to be made in the United States at all stages of the supply chain, but allowances given to recruits to purchase shoes do not have to follow that rule.

“The Army originally cited the lack of compliant, American-made options in the marketplace to justify its allowance program,” Tsongas said. “But today, those arguments are not valid. Innovative companies, such as New Balance right here in Massachusetts, are able to provide our service members with quality products and keep business here on American soil. We are boosting job growth, spurring economic development and innovation and giving the brave men and women of our armed forces better gear.”

LeBretton and Michael Hartigan, communications director for Tsongas, said this requirement, if approved, would not exceed the allowance the Pentagon currently gives to its recruits.

“We don’t believe that this is a cost increase for the military based on what military already spends per recruit,” LeBretton said. “They’re already spending for the shoes. They’re simply not made in the USA for the most part. It absolutely doesn’t make sense.”

The proposal was attached to a large annual defense funding and policy bill, which passed in the House of Representatives June 14. The Senate’s version is waiting for debate and a vote.

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