This Labor Day weekend, Alabamians will celebrate the end of summer and the start of another college football season. While we gather with family and friends, I hope we will also reflect on the importance of supporting Alabama jobs and the contributions American workers continue to make to our economy.
Since I first became active in public service, job creation and growth have been two of my primary objectives. As I continue to serve Alabama, my goal is to create a healthier economy and facilitate job growth in all corners of the state. Jobs must be our primary focus, whether in farming, manufacturing, coal mining, the iron and steel trades, or any other industry in our state.
For more than 150 years, Alabama’s steel manufacturing industry has been a driving force behind our state’s economic growth; providing a solid workforce and job opportunities to thousands of hardworking Alabamians. Today, I would like to particularly highlight the continued importance of this Alabama industry.
According to the American Iron and Steel Institute, over 60,000 Alabama jobs are supported by the steel industry. The strength of our domestic steel industry is vital to the health of our national economy and is directly connected to the economic wellbeing of local communities.
The United States’ steel industry faces challenges, especially competing with foreign countries like China and Russia. Fortunately, we have opportunities to strengthen Alabama and America’s steel industry through ‘Buy America’ policies and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s investigation into Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act.
‘Buy America’ is a policy that suggests we keep our tax dollars in our own economy to support state-funded projects; this creates jobs, boosts the local economy, and strengthens our national security. The National Association of Manufacturers states that manufacturing contributes $27 billion to Alabama’s economy each year, so by keeping that money in our own economy and supplying infrastructure projects with local materials, we are supporting our own hardworking citizens instead of relying on foreign countries.
With the Section 232 investigation, the U.S. Department of Commerce is reviewing the impact that imports of steel and aluminum are having on the U.S. economy, national security and jobs. I hope the Department of Commerce will recommend action that will allow domestic steel producers in Alabama to continue to thrive.
By doing this, we are implementing conservative policies that will have a direct impact on Alabama jobs. This will create a ripple effect that will have a positive impact on not just steelworkers, but their families, local communities and our economy.
I am proud of the work that men and women across Alabama do to support steel manufacturing in our state and contribute to our local economy. As a state, we must continue to identify ways to improve our economy and infrastructure and develop a strong workforce.
Let us keep that in mind as we enter the Labor Day weekend; making a conscious effort to invest in Alabama companies, grow jobs, and make improvements to our infrastructure that will strengthen the economy in our state and create opportunities for future generations.
Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh is the President of the Alabama Public Service Commission. Opinions expressed do not represent the position of the Public Service Commission or its other commissioners.