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Opinion | Manufacturing Day: Nothing happens without manufacturing

“Here in Alabama, 13 percent of our employment is manufacturing and produces 17 percent of our state economic output.”


Nothing happens without manufacturing.  There are no planes, trains, nor automobiles to travel in; no homes to keep us safe and comfortable; no air conditioners nor furnaces; no food harvested, processed, brought to market, or delivered.  You get the picture.

There are more than 900,000 manufacturing jobs open across the country right now, and the next 10 years will provide more than 4 million life-changing opportunities.  Each manufacturing job pays more than a living wage.  Down through the years, manufacturing employment has been the ladder of economic advancement for generations of families.

Here in Alabama, 13 percent of our employment is manufacturing and produces 17 percent of our state economic output, showing the positive productivity of our industry.  

Closer to home for me, the Alabama iron and steel industry directly employs 14,900 workers and supports 76,388 indirect jobs.  These payrolls are 1.48 and 4.68 billion dollars respectively.  Alabama’s iron and steel industry annually adds 717 million dollars to our state and local tax coffers.

Manufacturing and agriculture create wealth, and I’m proud and grateful to be a part of it.  The iron and steel industry is essential to construction, economic expansion, and national security.  And even closer to home, the manufacture of iron and steel water pipe from recycled raw materials contributes to public health and safety.  Clean water is the greatest advancement in public health in the history of the world, and manufactured iron pipe is essential to that advance.

So on this Manufacturing Day, I salute the workers, the industry, and the investors who make manufacturing possible here in America and in my home state of Alabama.

Maury D. Gaston is chairman of the Alabama Iron and Steel Council, a council of Manufacture Alabama, and a director and past chairman of the state of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame. Gaston is a mechanical engineering graduate of Auburn University and manager of marketing for American Cast Iron Pipe in Birmingham.

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