Leadership At Work
James M. Borneman, Editor In Chief
ost of the major concerns facing US textiles, and manufacturing in general, are still
with us, even with signs of a quiet optimism taking hold. Continued consolidation, increases in
inquiries from the mills for technology, and new products coming on-stream are all promising
signs - and more are needed. Significant sectors of the industry are seeing busier plant
floors, which actually may show up as increased capacity utilization.
But don't get giddy - the core concern of trade issues affecting US manufacturing is still languishing in the pre-election run-up to November. Hopefully, rather than letting these crucial issues fall to one side of the political spectrum, both political parties will reduce the rhetoric and support fair and enforceable trade policies. A quick improvement in one month's worth of employment data has taken the free fall of US manufacturing jobs off the agenda of many discussions, which is a real problem.
In this month's "Executive Forum," Textile World ’s Washington Correspondent Jim Morrissey presents the views of industry notables - true veterans of the ongoing war on textiles. Jim Chesnutt, Allen Gant Jr., Roger Milliken, George Shuster, Bruce Raynor and Steven Dobbins all share years of experience and frustration during the difficult times, and all share a vested interest in the more than 1 million jobs in the US textile and apparel industry.
To some, their remarks will be dismissed as industry insiders speaking the language of protectionism - and that is a huge mistake. These are leaders who live a life of textiles, know the history of trade successes and failures, and understand firsthand the responsibility leaders have to step forward and go on the record.
It's not easy, and it's not comfortable, but it is necessary - and more necessary than ever if you believe the textile industry and US manufacturing are being structurally marginalized in the US economy. One million jobs equal
1 million voices, and, as Chesnutt states, US textiles has lost one textile job every nine minutes since January 2001. Gant says, "We've lost 86,300 textile and apparel jobs in this country in just the past year."
Politics and policy are huge distractions from the heavy lifting of innovation and business development. Just running a US manufacturing concern today is a giant undertaking. This industry has the benefit of some really talented leadership that deserves to be heard, deserves to be supported, and deserves the respect of the political leadership.
With a “level playing field,” just imagine the possibilities of the US textile industry — that is something worth fighting for.