Robust Manufacturing Crucial to U.S. Security

By: Jim T. Ryan, Central Penn Business Journal

A new report from the Alliance for American Manufacturing suggests that a robust domestic manufacturing base could help stave off natural and manmade disasters to improve U.S. security.

“Revitalizing America’s domestic manufacturing capacity must become a clear and urgent national priority at all levels of government and among industry leaders,” according to the report written by former Pennsylvania Gov. and U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge along with retired Air Force Col. Robert Stephan. “The future vitality of our national and economic security goes hand-in-hand with that of our domestic manufacturing base.”

The 46-page document analyzes various threats to U.S. stability, including environmental issues such as climate change, terrorism and natural disasters and how the country can help prepare or recover from such events by leveraging its manufacturing sector.

Ridge and Stephan also outline specific recommendations to revitalize American manufacturing, including:

• Develop plans to make a strong American manufacturing sector a key component of national and economic security strategies.

• Reinvest in America’s infrastructure, using U.S.-made materials.

• Incentivize the revitalization of American manufacturing, including the use of domestic-content preferences that maximize the power of federal procurement funds.

• Enforce trade laws to ensure a level playing field for U.S manufacturers and their workers.

• Invest in the American workforce to ensure we have the trained workers needed to rebuild our infrastructure and work in a modern manufacturing sector.

Ridge served as governor from 1995 until 2001, when he left the position to become assistant to President George W. Bush for homeland security. In 2003, he became the first secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, serving in that capacity until 2005.

Today, Ridge is president and CEO of Ridge Global, his Washington, D.C.-based international security and risk consultancy. Ridge and his firm have been active in promoting the Marcellus gas industry as an economic driver for Pennsylvania. He also has been a board member of Derry Township-based The Hershey Co. since 2007. The Business Journal profiled Ridge in October 2010.

Stephan is executive vice president of CRA Inc., a Virginia-based homeland security and defense contracting company. He was the assistant secretary of Homeland Security for infrastructure protection from 2005 to 2008, and assistant to Ridge prior to that. Stephan served as senior director for critical infrastructure protection in the Executive Office of the President, and had a 24-year Air Force career with command positions in the joint special operations community.

The Alliance for American Manufacturing is a Washington, D.C.-based partnership between leading U.S. manufacturers and the United Steelworkers to address public policy solutions for job creation, infrastructure investment, trade and strengthening U.S. manufacturing.

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