EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

March 25, 2014

Windham resident testifies about manufacturing revival

By John Toole

---- — WINDHAM — A business analyst from Windham recently testified before a Congressional subcommittee about the manufacturing renaissance in the U.S.

Shirley Mills, a senior analyst for The Boston Company Asset Management, appeared at a hearing before the House Small Business Subcommittee, where Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster, D-N.H., introduced her.

Kuster said Mills testified about reshoring, the process of companies investing in manufacturing capacity in the U.S. instead of foreign countries where they previously moved plants.

“Shirley’s research clearly demonstrates that bringing these jobs back home can not only be a smart financial move, but also supports job creation in New Hampshire and across the United States,” Kuster said.

Mills, a member of the Boston Economic Club, provided six pages of testimony to the House subpanel.

She told the panel favorable conditions for reshoring that she highlighted in a research paper several years ago remain in place.

She said the U.S. share of global manufacturing remained flat in recent years, while manufacturing employment improved in tandem with the economic recovery.

“This is very good news for your constituents and U.S. small businesses,” Mills testified.

Energy costs have declined in the U.S. while wage differentials between the U.S. and foreign countries have narrowed, she said.

“I believe that U.S. manufacturing is indeed growing more rapidly as a result of these changes,” Mills told the House subpanel.

She said she expects the most significant benefits of manufacturing reshoring will go to small manufacturing companies, as well as component suppliers, transportation companies, construction companies, raw material producers and utilities.

“For every manufacturing job created, one or two are created in other industries,” she told the subpanel. “Improved employment in recovering manufacturing regions will also likely benefit some regional retailers and regional banks.”

Policies that could encourage reshoring, she said, are consistent and simple regulation, expanding energy exports, tax incentives and reforms, employee development and encouragement of corporate expansion.

Mills cautioned against talk about “jobs coming back,” which she argued is not quite accurate.

“Time doesn’t roll backward,” she said. “For U.S. manufacturing and its workforce, the world is much more competitive than it once was. Rather, incremental investment in American manufacturing may create new and different jobs. The broader benefit to U.S. employment — particularly lower-skill employment — will come from associated services, such as trucking, distribution, retail and banking.”

Kuster described Mills’s testimony as hitting on excellent points.

“Cynics from across the country like to say that the American manufacturing industry is dead,” Kuster said. “Here in the Granite State, that’s far from the truth.”

New Hampshire manufacturers are seeing technological breakthroughs and creating innovative products, she said.

Kuster said companies should be rewarded for bringing jobs back, not sending them away.

“I’ve urged the president to establish a manufacturing innovation institute in New Hampshire which would help simplify the manufacturing process, drive new ideas and spur economic growth,” Kuster said.