Much of the media, including The Fabricator Blog and "Stamping News Brief," have covered President Obama's visits to factories in recent months. The June issue of "Stamping News Brief" asked subscribers whether they think the visits are strictly PR, fact-finding missions, or both. Here's what some respondents said:
Reader from an Ohio-based metals service center — "I don’t think these visits are anything more than photo ops. (Obama) should be making commitments to our industry and other contributors to our economy. Instead he is excited to announce a $400 million commitment to Palestine for improving their economy. I don't think he or anyone in his administration has an idea of how to stimulate our economy or maybe that isn't on their must-do agenda."
Reader from an Illinois-based company that fabricates home improvement hardware — "Of course the President's visits are PR. As with other major issues in our nation, he lays out no strategy for improvement. Energy — no strategy; should be No. 1 instead of health care and illegal immigrants. Manufacturing — try going to war someday without the capability to manufacture simple nuts or bolts. No strategy.
"Look how he's handling the decimation of the Gulf Coast — 'whose ass do I kick?' Proof he has never managed an operation and knows little about partnerships or building consensus. The health bill was supposed to be bi-partisan, but it was totally along party lines, and now, the small businesses have to suffer more. I can't wait for November when he will finally see the will of the people."
Voc-tech educator — "PR or lip service. And since you asked, mostly he is going to union facilities and this worries me too. The factories in the Southern states are doing fine without unions, and I have not seen him here or anywhere in the south, come to think of it, but just as well. I do think charter schools are needed to train skilled workers and that money will be well spent."
Reader who works for an Ohio-based automotive supplier — "I believe the factory visits are the same as the visit (June 10) with the families of the 11 that died in the Gulf. It is just PR.
"The Government says it cannot loan money for working capital. They will give low-interest loans for new equipment when we do not even have enough work for our existing equipment.
"The money they gave GM and Chrysler was working capital!!! They allow GM to say they paid back their loans when in reality it is a very small percentage of the money they got.
"What else could it be but PR?
"The Government could have helped hundreds of companies and saved jobs with a small percent of what they gave GM, Chrysler, and Wall Street."
Sales director for a large, Pennsylvania-based fabricating shop — "Every time the president of our country goes anywhere it's a PR opportunity. It also involves some form of fact finding. Though with the massive resources available to our government, does the president really need to go anywhere to get the facts? I think that the fact finding may be more to see for himself what some of the facts mean.
"I'm more interested in understanding how Industrial Support Inc. (ISI) was the chosen company for that visit. Sadly, politics is part of so much. Therefore it should be no surprise that the press pays little attention to the company being visited and more to the stated purpose of that visit.
"Good for ISI to have the president visit. A good photo-op for all involved. There are so many wonderfully skilled and capable manufacturing companies in America. They are the true survivors in a very competitive world, where fair competition went the way of the 8-track tape player long ago."
I tend to agree with the sales director, particularly his last paragraph. Yes, the president's factory visits most likely are little more than PR and good photo ops, but they do cast a media spotlight, albeit it briefly, on some U.S. manufacturing companies, and nobody deserves the spotlight more. If only that spotlight could stimulate more help for U.S. manufacturing before it too goes the way of the 8-track tape player.
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