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More Than Warm and Fuzzy: Why American-made Material Is Critical to Your Project

A lot has been said recently in the marketplace and in the news about the need for products to be MADE IN THE USA. After all, 2012 is an election year, and American-made products are a hot button when people are out of work. Just look at all the websites and organizations promoting the need to “BUY AMERICA.” But again, to many people this is just a feel-good issue to feed on the “crisis of the moment.” The real issue is WHY?

The bottom line is that many project owners, contractors, inspectors and users simply WANT products that are made in America. Why? Because of QUALITY and RISK MANAGEMENT. You may try and argue that most homeowners or office tenants could care less – that they have too many other things to worry about, simply aren’t aware of country of origin issues, or are only concerned with price and appearance. I would argue otherwise.

I suspect that most people today will not accept Chinese drywall after all of the issues that have arisen with homes contaminated by the product. And what about those contractors or distributors who purchased Chinese EMT, only to have UL pull the UL listing when it was found that the product did not meet corrosion testing requirements? How were they going to be able to recover their costs once they realized they could no longer sell or install this material – much less address the concerns of those building owners or homeowners who had this material installed? This is a SAFETY issue as well as a COST issue.

The bottom line is this: Why take the risk of buying foreign products?

As a distributor, do you really know that the products on your shelf are not going to a state or federally funded project that requires only Made in the USA or Made in America products? As a contractor, do you want the risk of installing foreign products, only to find later that the products do not meet certain standards? It simply doesn’t make sense to take these kinds of risks.

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What the DoD Proposed Military Construction Budget Means for Contractors

In February, the Department of Defense released its budget request for the 2013 fiscal year. Of particular note was the allocation for Military Construction (MilCon).

According to the DoD, MIL-CON accounts "provide funds for new construction, construction improvements, planning and design, and host nation support."

Additionally, "projects funded by these accounts include facilities for operations, training, maintenance, research and development, supply, medical care and force protection, as well as unaccompanied housing, utilities infrastructure and land acquisition."

The DoD's proposed request for MilCon in the FY 2013 budget was approximately $11.2 billion, a decrease from the enacted FY 2012 budget of approximately $13.6 billion and the enacted FY 2011 budget of approximately $17.4 billion (see table 1). The comptroller stated that the FY 2013 MilCon investment is "less than investments in prior years until the Department reassesses its investment strategy next year, when the impacts of forced structure changes on infrastructure requirements has been assessed."

The DoD breaks down MilCon into three main components: General MilCon, Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) and Family Housing. General MilCon (FY 2013 proposed $9.1 billion) consists of the "beddown" of weapons systems, providing operational and training facilities, and recapitalizing aging facilities and modernizing facilities. BRAC (FY 2013 proposed $0.5 billion) funds environmental and caretaker costs for properties not yet conveyed in prior rounds. Family Housing (FY 2013 proposed $1.7 billion) funds construction, improvements, operation and maintenance of government-owned family housing worldwide to provide quality, affordable housing to the U.S. military and their families.The top five states for MilCon and Family Housing per total obligational authority - as well as two of their main projects of note - for the DoD's FY 2013 budget are as follows:

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Why Domestic Manufacturing is Important Now More than Ever

American manufacturing has a long history of a favorable, patriotic indication and a track record of top notch innovation. According to a recent poll, voters say that creating jobs, specifically in manufacturing, and strengthening manufacturing in the U.S., are top economic priorities.

In today’s global market, there are too many instances where the domestic industry has been decimated by unfairly traded imports—to the point where it is very tough for a domestic manufacturer to compete against products imported from other countries.

A recent report, Preparing for 21st Century Risks: Revitalizing American Manufacturing to Protect, Respond, and Recover, written by former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and former Assistant Secretary for Homeland Security Robert B. Stephan states:

“We are becoming too reliant on global suppliers (many of whom may not have our best interests at heart in a time of crisis), along with a highly complex and vulnerable global supply chain needed to bolster our weak points or come to our rescue in the midst of an emergency.”

The report, released by the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) reflects on the importance of domestic steel products and materials as essential components of our nation’s critical infrastructure base.

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