The Rhode Island Manufacturers Association will host its second annual Congressional Manufacturing Summit at the Providence Marriott Downtown on Sept. 23. The registration deadline for the summit is Sept. 13. PBN spoke with RIMA Executive Director Dave Chenevert about this year’s event, how it compares to last year’s and what attendees can expect.
PBN: What were some of the industry’s main concerns or issues raised and discussed at last year’s summit?
CHENEVERT: Some of the issues we discussed last year were cybersecurity, workforce development, Harmonized Tariff Schedule enforcement, manufacturing legislation, energy costs and [General Data Protection Regulation].
GDPR affects U.S.-based companies in how they can communicate with European Union businesses. The cost to businesses is very expensive. The questions concerned whether the U.S. was going to follow suit and institute a similar program.
PBN: Do you feel those concerns/issues have changed since last year?
CHENEVERT: Not really. They are all current concerns, especially the ramp-up of the tariff situation. The major effect of that would be losing business to competitors who don’t face the tariff issue. In several instances, goods from China circumvent the tariff by mislabeling their items. The other area of impact is cost – many of our larger manufacturers will be adjusting their product-line pricing with a 25-30% increase.
PBN: Regarding the event itself, are there new adds this year?
CHENEVERT: We have increased the room size, as we were overflowing last year. We had over 250 people and numerous showcase tables. We’ve increased room size to accommodate an anticipated crowd of 300.
PBN: If you had to name a benefit/benefits that came from last year’s Congressional Manufacturing Summit, the inaugural year for the event, what would it be?
CHENEVERT: The open-question forum directed to our congressional delegation was a benefit … the ability for manufacturers to interact with the delegation and have their specific concerns discussed.
PBN: Are there folks from specific areas of manufacturing that you would especially like to see register for the summit?
CHENEVERT: I think it is important for all manufacturing sectors to take this opportunity to meet and hear the congressional delegation’s views. The main issue we face is the economic uncertainty caused by the North American Free Trade Agreement deal not being signed and the tariff war with China. NAFTA and the tariff war impact [manufacturers’] plans on expansion and their investment in new equipment. This is due to the uncertainty of these two concerns not being resolved.
Susan Shalhoub is a PBN contributing writer.
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