For many of us the last 12 months have been difficult if not tragic on a personal level and at work. In the true spirit of our country, Americans rallied and have gotten through perhaps the most difficult experience we have ever lived through. Now that we are getting back to normal it is important that we remain focused on the lessons we learned during the Covid-19 pandemic.
It seems like a long time ago, but I think we all remember trying to find masks, toilet paper and other basics at the beginning of the pandemic only to find them in short supply. Here in New York, where the crisis hit hard and early, there were daily press conferences discussing the shortage of these basic supplies along with other medial necessities such as ventilators that medical staff needed in order to attend to those who had fallen ill. In the case of the supply, we discovered something hugely important that we should never forget. Our dependence on China and other nations for critical manufactured goods was shut off and we had no domestic suppliers to turn to in a crisis.
This stark realization sent shockwaves through our nation as our politicians and medical community struggled to cope with the crisis. More than a year after the initial shutdowns supply chain issues are still front page news across the nation. From chips for our automobile factories to medical supplies, shortages are abundant and are affecting our economic recovery. So pronounced is the situation that there is actually broad-based bipartisan support to recognize the issue and actually cooperate on a pragmatic solution. From the recently- passed U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, also known as the China Bill, to key elements of the infrastructure bill, Washington has prioritized the return of key strategic production and technology so that we are never again caught in the dire situation we faced a year ago.
While our politicians wrangle back and forth on the details and certain aspects of fixing our manufacturing gaps there is something that we can do as consumers to expedite the process. Thousands of American manufacturing companies, some old some newly created, are ready to further expand their businesses and they need your help. They need orders in order to sustain themselves and grow. This growth will help rebuild our nation’s industrial base and provide millions of jobs to those who are either unemployed or underemployed in lower paying jobs with no future.
Now that the masks have come off and the summer sun shines brightly, let us not forget to focus on doing our part to support the manufacturing companies and their heroic employees that worked through the pandemic, in many cases shifting production to PPE, and stepped up their game to keep us safe and supplied during the crisis. Both in the store and on the internet let’s make sure we insist on Buying American made and keep this engine rolling! Lesson learned – Buy American.
Greg Owens is co-chair of the Coalition for a Prosperous America’s (CPA) Buy American Committee and CEO of a mid-sized manufacturing company.