SCDigest Editorial Staff
Trying to promote a "Buy American" campaign to assist local manufacturers and create jobs is more difficult than you might think.
That's the lesson the state of Minnesota is learning, after it became the first state in the union to apparently mandate specific government purchases - in this case uniforms and safety equipment - be sources from US suppliers if domestically produced goods are available for sale.
Unfortunately, the reality is that local safety agencies are feeling the impact of the recession just as badly as US households and seeing their budgets often reduced substantially - and now complain they can't afford the domestic goods.
In fact, when the bill was proposed in March of 2009 by
state representative Tom Rukavina, it was opposed at the time by the Minnesota Police Chiefs Association.
Rukavina was well meaning. He recently told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that a big reason the US "is not recovering from the recession as quickly as some other countries are is because they still make things. When you make things, turn natural
resources into things, you also turn them into livable jobs."
Unfortunately, the reality is that most of the made-in-the-USA goods are simply a lot more expensive than the foreign imports - and local safety departments say they can't afford them.
The Star Tribune interviewed
Julie Deshler, manager at the Uniforms Unlimited store in Minneapolis, who cites these price points for goods her store sells to the safety departments:
- Imported Dickies cargo work pants sell for
$22 retail at the store. Pants made in Tennessee by Southeastern Shirt Co. cost $45.
- An imported Hanes golf shirt with a city logo is $17. A shirt made in Kansas by King Louie America is $28.
- An imported Dickies high-visibility shirt is $17. A shirt made in Chisholm, Minn., by Xtreme Visibility is $26.
Deschler says a number of the affected product categories seem to have no US manufacture for them.
She adds that "the law is 20 years too
(Manufacturing Article - Continued Below)