It was a busy year for AEM’s national grassroots advocacy campaign, I Make America, crisscrossing the country hosting educational presentations, educating and activating on pro-manufacturing policy, hosting visits with elected officials and more. I Make America continues to give a voice to the 2.3 million men and women who manufacture the equipment that builds, powers and feeds the world. Let’s rewind and look at the year in review.
Paving The Way for Pro-Manufacturing Policies
In partnership with more than 1,100 member companies, I Make America mobilized supporters from all 50 states to take action and make their voices heard on important legislation that advances our industry’s policy priorities. With more than 100,000 letters sent to Washington, D.C. and capitals across the country, supporters urged their legislators to pass important legislation at the federal and state level.
First at the federal level was the 2023 Farm Bill, pushing for the inclusion of the PAL Act and the PRECISE Act to promote increased adoption of precision ag technologies. In addition supporters called for the reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), as it provides the necessary funding needed to maintain safe, reliable and resilient air travel across the United States. While both programs were given a short-term extension into 2024, these issues are being kept top-of-mind for hundreds of legislators thanks to the key role that grassroots advocacy played.
At the state level, I Make America called on supporters to lobby the Iowa State Legislature to pass the Dairy Innovation Fund, signed into law by Governor Kim Reynolds (R-Iowa) in the spring of 2023. The program leverages low-interest loans and grants to make precision dairy technologies more accessible to Iowa’s dairy farmers. After supporters in Wisconsin took action, the Wisconsin state research and development (R&D) tax credit was successfully raised from 15% to 25% - a win for family-sustaining jobs and job creation across the state.
“I Make America has continued to grow and build year after year, advocating for pro-manufacturing policies across the country,” said Wade Balkonis, AEM’s director of grassroots advocacy. “But the secret behind this success is the commitment of our member companies and equipment manufacturing industry supporters. Without the tens of thousands of men and women willing to put themselves forward and make their voices heard, we would not be where we are today.”
Elected Officials See the Power of the Industry: Our People
In May, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) partnered with Elliott Equipment Company to host U.S. Representative Don Bacon (R-Neb.) at Elliott’s Omaha facility. This visit highlighted the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), legislation that focuses on diversifying domestic energy, bolstering economic security and training the next generation of the manufacturing workforce among other topics.
In July, BOMAG Americas and AEM teamed up to welcome Governor Henry McMaster (R-South Carolina) to their headquarters. Governor McMaster witnessed the launch of CONNEX™, an innovative manufacturing supply chain solution connecting manufacturers to component suppliers across the state.
In August, Volvo CE and AEM hosted U.S. Representative John Joyce (PA-13) to celebrate the production of the company’s first electric asphalt compactor and the opening of their new technical training center. The event displayed the equipment manufacturing industry’s commitment to sustainably building modern infrastructure, which is needed to strengthen our economy and global market.
In September, AEM partnered with AGCO Corporation to host U.S. Representative Brad Finstad (MN-01) along with local farmers and producers at their Jackson, Minnesota facility for a farm bill listening session. I Make America supporters activated on the timely passage of the 2023 Farm Bill countless times throughout the year, and the listening session allowed major stakeholders to voice their priorities for the next farm bill such as precision agriculture, broadband, carbon credit, conservation practices and more.
Two major facility visits with elected officials occurred in October. AEM partnered with Hitachi Global Air Power to host Governor Eric Holcomb (R-Indiana) and discuss different issues impacting the industry such as infrastructure investment, workforce development and U.S. competitiveness. AEM additionally partnered with Krone North America to celebrate the company’s 50th anniversary by hosting Governor Tate Reeves (R-Mississippi), who thanked Krone North America on behalf of the three million people who live in the state for believing in their community.
Lastly, AEM and I Make America teamed up with Conn-Weld Industries to host U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) at the company’s manufacturing facility in Princeton, West Virginia to celebrate the Senator’s leadership on the passage of the bipartisan American Investment in Manufacturing Act.
Innovating Ways to Get Engaged
This year, AEM also recognized a record number of 2023 Advocacy Awards winners. I Make America plays a significant role in the Advocacy Awards each year, logging engagement from members from placing I Make America magnets at tradeshows, hosting educational events, sharing pro-manufacturing polices on social media, among many other opportunities. In 2023, the campaign saw more engagement than ever on social media, enhancing our presence on all channels through several concentrated digital campaigns. Celebrations of Flag Day, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, our Week of Action and Women’s Equality Day, just to name a few, brought our message to a wider audience and gave our industry a chance to celebrate together. Combined with several other opportunities, more members were able to achieve the Bronze award for the very first time, and a record number reached the prestigious Gold level.
I Make America partnered with Bobcat Company to give away a Bobcat UV34CL diesel utility vehicle (UTV) to Paul D. Schmigdall, an attendee of the CONEXPO/CON-AGG 2023 tradeshow and employee of AEM member company Superior Industries. We are excited to partner with John Deere in early 2024 to deliver a Gator to a lucky attendee of The Utility who stood with our industry, signed up for I Make America and took action – more to come!
By all measures, this was a record-breaking year for I Make America and was only possible with the support of our member companies and the tens of thousands of dedicated supporters of the grassroots campaign - but making the voices of the industry heard is a task that is never complete. See you in 2024!
To get involved in AEM’s national grassroots campaign, reach out to AEM's Wade Balkonis at email@example.com.
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