All posts by Allison Gilbreath

Allison Gilbreath is the vice president of strategic initiatives at the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry and executive director of the Arizona Manufacturers Council.

Ratifying the USMCA Is Critical for Arizona—and America

By: Linda Dempsey, Vice President, International Economic Affairs, National Association of Manufacturers

Business owners know that market access is central to their success. A quick look at the math shows why: The United States makes up only 5 percent of the world’s population, so the ability to access the other 95 percent of the world is critical to allowing businesses to achieve their full potential. And when it comes to manufacturers in America, there are no more important trading partners than Canada and Mexico.

In Arizona, cross-border trade, particularly with Mexico, is vital to support industries and communities as well as the international partnerships that bring our countries together. To provide renewed certainty and improve many aspects of the trading relationship, manufacturers are calling on Congress to ratify the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement as soon as possible. The stakes are high. Canada and Mexico alone purchase more from the United States than our next 11 trading partners combined. And trade with those two countries supports 12 million jobs, including more than 2 million manufacturing jobs and more than 40,000 small and medium-sized businesses.

The National Association of Manufacturers recently released state fact sheets highlighting the importance of North American trade to manufacturing. Put simply, the industry relies on sound trade policies with Canada and Mexico—and our country relies on the success of the industry. One in five Arizona manufacturing firms export to Canada and Mexico, and nearly three-quarters of those are small and medium-sized businesses. Taking a step further back illustrates the larger picture: Canada and Mexico alone purchase more than two-fifths of Arizona’s total global manufacturing exports. Without a free trade agreement, Arizona’s manufacturing exports could face more than $2 billion in tariffs, raising the prices on the state’s exports and reducing the region’s international competitiveness.

The business implications are clear, but what cannot be overlooked is how much workers and communities rely on sound international trade policy. More than 19,000 Arizona manufacturing jobs depend on exports to Canada and Mexico. This includes jobs across industries—everything from electrical equipment and components, to metal products and motor vehicle parts, to communications equipment and chemicals, and more. These are well-paying jobs, too. Manufacturing jobs in Arizona pay, on average, $82,321 a year in wages and benefits compared to $43,759 for workers across all private nonfarm industries. Workers and businesses are calling on Congress to do what is right for their jobs and the economy by ratifying the USMCA.

It has been 25 years since NAFTA was enacted. Since that time, manufacturing output has more than doubled, and exports to Canada and Mexico have tripled. Meanwhile, as our economy has shifted considerably, NAFTA has been stagnant. The USMCA will improve NAFTA in areas where it hasn’t kept up, strengthening and modernizing rules to rev up America’s innovation engine, expanding access to Canada and Mexico and leveling the playing field for manufacturers in the United States.

Notably, the USMCA includes new best-in-class rules to strengthen protection and enforcement of the full range of intellectual property rights important to manufacturers and their workers in the United States, from patents, trade secrets and trademarks to copyright and regulatory data protection that are critical to all Arizona and U.S. innovative manufacturing industries. It will add a new best-in-class digital trade chapter that prohibits unnecessary barriers on the movement of information and data, the forced localization of information technology infrastructure or the forced disclosure of source codes that are important to small manufacturers using the internet as their global storefront and to all manufacturers relying on or creating new technologies. And it contains new chapters on good regulatory practices and technical barriers to trade as well as sanitary and phytosanitary measures that will set new standards for trade agreements around the world.

Arizonans deserve the opportunity for stability in their jobs, success in their business and a strong national economy. By ratifying the USMCA, Congress can do their part toward achieving those critical ends for businesses across the state and across the country.

National Association of Manufacturers visits Arizona, hosts lineup of manufacturing and policy leaders

Allison Gilbreath

Spirits were high last week as manufacturing executives gathered in Scottsdale for the National Association of Manufacturers Spring Board of Directors meeting. The largest manufacturing association in the United States, NAM represents small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. The Arizona Manufacturers Council (AMC) is the official state affiliate of NAM.

The guest list included a star-studded collection of world leaders, celebrity speakers and top executives from iconic American manufacturing companies like PING, Ball Corp., Anheuser-Busch and others.

Vice President Mike Pence, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley, SBA Administrator and WWE co-founder Linda McMahon, and economist and author of “Trumponomics,” Stephen Moore, were among the featured speakers.


Consistent themes throughout the event emerged around the positive economic effects of NAM-driven policies like federal tax cuts and regulatory reform. The need for certainty on trade – particularly the need to develop an innovative, enforceable agreement with China and a strong sense of urgency around the passage of the USMCA – also remained at the forefront. The AMC and the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry remain committed to leading advocacy efforts at the state level.

“Manufacturing in the United States is on the rise, and manufacturers are confident about the future,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons at the three-day event at the Phoenician. Timmons is widely regarded as one of the most influential leaders in Washington today.

During the first quarter of 2019, an average of 91 percent of manufacturers reported an optimistic outlook about their own company and the economy according to the NAM Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey released March 5th. There were 12,834,000 manufacturing workers in February, with almost 1.4 million employees added since the end of the Great Recession – the most workers in the sector since December 2008.

While momentum is building, manufacturers expressed common concerns around trade, infrastructure deficiencies and workforce shortages.


During his remarks, Vice President Pence urged manufacturers to “send a strong message to members of Congress in all 50 states that it’s time to approve the USMCA, and we must see it approved by Congress this year. “

Arizona’s international trade relationships remain vital to our state’s economy, especially with our strongest trading partners, Mexico and Canada. In 2017, Arizona exported $7.5 billion in goods to Mexico and $2.2 billion in goods to Canada. Trade with Mexico and Canada supported over 236,000 jobs in Arizona during the same year.

The AMC and the Arizona Chamber are working full tilt with the Arizona delegation to create a sense of urgency around the passage of the USMCA. The deadline for the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) to release an assessment on the agreement and its economic impact is expected in April of this

year and Congress will begin consideration of the agreement following the release of the ITC’s assessment.

“Ratification of the USMCA is the single most important issue facing Arizona. More than 236,000 Arizona jobs depend on our trade relationship with Mexico and Canada,” Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry President and CEO Glenn Hamer said.


On the workforce side, the tightest labor market on record is welcome news to employees and jobseekers. However, a red-hot job market often spells challenges for employers.

Recent studies show nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will be created in the next decade. But 2.4 million of those jobs could go unfilled. The inability to attract and retain employees remained the top concern for the fifth consecutive quarter in the NAM’s Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey. One in four respondents indicated that worker shortages had forced them to turn down new business opportunities.

Dawn Grove, Chairwoman of the AMC and Chairwoman of the Workforce Arizona Council added, “Manufacturers are growing so rapidly, they are necessarily reaching out to new populations — hiring returning citizens, those with disabilities and many who have been out of the workforce for years. Modern manufacturers are implementing advanced technologies, automation and robotics to improve quality, bolster safety and better compete globally, such that American manufacturing workers are becoming better skilled, more productive and receiving higher wages than ever before.”

In Arizona, efforts are underway to create a pipeline of manufacturing workers through the power of Career and Technical Education. Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs are being developed that give students the hands-on skills needed to enter and succeed in the workforce.

The AMC and the Arizona Chamber strongly support Governor Ducey’s fiscal year 2020 budget plan which includes a $10 million investment to expand CTE offerings across Arizona. Through a grant program, high schools with CTE programs will receive up to $1,000 for each student who graduates with a certification in specific industries.

During a special edition of Ham(m)er Time filmed at PING in Phoenix, Hamer and Timmons sat down to discuss current workforce challenges and how technological advancements will continue to fuel demand for skilled workers.

The two-week, eight-state tour concluded in Phoenix last week, with additional stops at Intel in Chandler and Four Peaks Brewery in Tempe.

Kate Conway

Director of Government Relations, Honeywell

Kate serves as Honeywell’s Director of Government Relations supporting business interests at the local and state levels in the western states.

Most recently, Kate supported government relations and regulatory compliance efforts for the U.S. Coast Guard facilitating uninterrupted commerce in strategic ports along the Pacific coast. She partnered with federal, tribal, state, and local entities to ensure existing laws adequately safeguarded the maritime community, secured critical port infrastructure, and sustained environmental protection standards. Kate also led external engagements with Congress, intergovernmental agencies, and the media in southern California. Previously, she served as a political appointee in the White House Office of Management and Administration.

She earned her master’s degree from the Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University, and her bachelor’s degree from Northern Arizona University. She resides in her hometown of Phoenix, Arizona and enjoys golfing.