Colorado Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Loren Furman said the organization will not wait for the November general election and plans to ramp up political efforts sooner.
“We will no longer be limited to just our general election process,” Furman told the crowd gathered at the Weston Thursday for the chamber’s Colorado Business Day. “We will step it up and get involved in primary elections. We will identify business executives and influence the process at an early stage, because that is what matters.”
Thursday’s program focused on manufacturing, with National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons delivering the keynote address.
“We prioritize staffing issues, and this is not a new problem. It’s critical to the manufacturing industry,” Furman said.
Colorado has more than 4,800 manufacturers that provide 150,000 jobs and contribute more than $27 billion to the Colorado economy annually, Furman said.
She ran the chamber’s new “Coolest Thing Made in Colorado” contest for any product made in Colorado. The competition begins in August and a winner will be announced at the annual dinner in October.
“When we survey all of you, our partners across the country, we hear the exact same call to action every time. We need a talent pipeline. We need a strong workforce. We need a healthy tax environment. We need a non-contentious employment environment. We need competitive costs of doing business,” Furman said.
Timmon’s speech focused on recent federal legislative victories that have yet to be defended. He told the crowd: “If you just focus on the crises of the last few years, I think it’s easy to overlook the incredible progress we’ve really made since that time.”
He urged members to address federal lawmakers and urged them to support passage of the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, which would provide $52 billion in federal investment for domestic semiconductor research, design and manufacturing provisions in the CHIPS Act.
According to the Semiconductor Industry Association: “The share of modern semiconductor manufacturing capacity in the US has fallen from 37% in 1990 to 12% today, largely because other countries’ governments have invested ambitiously in chip manufacturing incentives and the US government has not Has .”
“I like that it has bipartisan support,” Timmons said. “There’s some really good stuff in there, like anti-counterfeiting measures on STEM workforce development. … If we expand capacity by making these chips here in America, we’re going to have even more high-tech job opportunities.”
An apparent priority for the association is to curb any action to roll back the tax reforms implemented in 2017. He mentioned the perceived risk of losing those tax breaks at least four times during his speech.
“Tax reform is absolutely the foundation upon which we will build this decade of manufacturing,” he said. “But if the President or Congress succeed in reversing the 2017 tax reforms or they hit us with other types of taxes that they concocted like the proposals in the President’s budget, they’re going to pull the rug right off from under us.” “
The association is helping to fill the talent pipeline by reaching out to younger students with its traveling exhibition, Creators Wanted, which teaches about manufacturing jobs.
It has toured six cities, attracted thousands of attendees, and “reached more than 170,000 people interested in learning more about manufacturing careers,” Timmons said. “When someone becomes part of a manufacturing team, they get a chance to innovate and find solutions to the problems that plague society in order to improve life and everyone’s lives.”