Let's try an experiment. Head over to your next-door neighbor and ask them this question:
Do you think public works projects, paid for by taxpayers, should use American-made goods whenever possible?
Now, ask them another:
Do you want your tax dollars shipped to another country to buy goods, when those goods are already made in America at a comparable price and quality?
I bet you already know the answers you'd get. As president and CEO of the Saginaw County Chamber, it's my job to make sure the diverse businesses in our region receive equal consideration and support when taxpayers' dollars are being spent and policies are being made. That includes domestic and Michigan-made steel.
Saginaw County is proud to be a manufacturing community and is home to automotive, aerospace, high-tech manufacturing, tool and dye companies and others that use steel. Producing steel here creates jobs that provide a great living wage for families and helps solidify our middle class. And beyond the local economic benefits, supporting domestically made steel means a more secure region, state and nation.
Fighter jets, tanks and ships all require materials like steel and aluminum to be built, and we need a strong industrial base to create those materials. Right now, though, Michigan and American industries like these are at risk.
For the past several years, China's government-owned companies have produced more steel and aluminum than the country can possibly use. In 2015 alone, China's steel overcapacity hit 336 million metric tons. China needs to do something with all that extra product, so it ships it to the United States and prices it far below fair market value.
For too many Michigan businesses, this is not an unfamiliar story. China is seeking to dominate the market, and it's putting American steel and aluminum companies out of business. Sadly, it's been a successful strategy - dozens of U.S. steel plants have closed and tens of thousands of steelworkers have faced layoffs. Meanwhile, there's only one American smelter left to produce aerospace-quality aluminum.
A federal national security investigation into these practices and steel and aluminum imports has been launched. If that investigation concludes that these imports are indeed a threat, the president could respond.
One thing is clear: If Michigan and American steel and aluminum makers - and the countless manufacturers and companies they serve who rely on those products - continue to face this onslaught of imports, more American jobs will be lost and more American companies will go out of business. That means we might be forced to rely on nations like China or Russia for the steel and aluminum we need to make our fighter jets, tanks, ships and more.
At the Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce, we are working to make sure our local employers have the best opportunity to make quality, Michigan-made products that support our region and nation. It is important that the Trump administration act to support the domestic steel industry. It is crucial for our region and all those who live, work and do business here, and it is important for the security of our nation.