by Steve Macias
November 24, 2015
During this week of Thanksgiving, I am first and foremost thankful for family, friends, community, health, and my mom’s sausage-based stuffing. I am also thankful for Arizona and the people who live here that are trying to make it an even better place than it already is.
I travel once a month or so, and over the last year in cities from Boston to Indianapolis to Denver to Houston to Los Angeles and places in between, there are similar sights: usually a healthy dose of retail centers, plenty of schools and schoolchildren and, sadly, shrinking industrial areas. Last month in Woodland Hills, California, as I stared through a chain link fence at a padlocked Rocketdyne plant, I felt like Iron Eyes Cody in the 1970s “Keep America Beautiful” commercial.
As our industrial base shrinks, I wonder where the children in the schools will work. Will they earn a good enough living to support the retail centers and the people who work there? Will our three teenagers never leave the house? Before that last thought causes me to seize up, the recent statewide focus on manufacturing and the benefits it provides, does give me some optimism that Arizona will be able to provide jobs and a living for our kids and future transplants.
In the last three weeks we have had events such as the Arizona Manufacturers Council awards, the Arizona Technology Council’s Governor’s Celebration of Innovation Awards, and the Minority Business awards where manufacturers large and small took center stage. Winners included companies who produce missiles, pacemakers, body armor, cars, beer, computer chips and construction products among others. The diversity and ability of these companies keep me optimistic that our industry will continue to provide good jobs and opportunities to those willing to work hard.
As a Phoenix native, I have vivid memories of my dad coming home from his part-time JC Penney job at 9:30 at night, eating dinner and then getting ready to leave again at 11:15 PM with his lunch pail in hand for his graveyard shift at the Reynolds Aluminum plant on Van Buren. Our Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners were usually served about 1:00 in the afternoon so Dad would have time to eat and then work the holiday swing shift, which meant double-time pay and some extra money on the table.
Halfway across the country, my father-in-law was walking and driving the streets of Chicagoland with blueprints, maps, interest-rate tables, and a briefcase full of notes and charts looking to finance and build his projects. Among the ventures were many that included small and medium manufacturing plants, places where people like my dad would eventually find meaningful and gainful employment.
These are the types of results and the type of system the Arizona Manufacturers Council is striving to help create as we look at our 2016 legislative agenda: an atmosphere where more job creators can create jobs and more working class folks are able to secure good jobs and get ahead. So as our elected leaders – both local and national – move forward into 2016, let us put our focus on guiding the economy toward the things that will encourage industry, create jobs, and teach that hard work has its rewards.
By doing so we can avoid the shadow of that shuttered Rocketdyne plant in California, and stay in the sunshine that is Arizona.
Steve Macias is the president of Pivot Manufacturing and the chairman of the Arizona Manufacturers Council