By Dennis Slater, AEM President
Six years ago this fall, I made my way to Capitol Hill to join Mike Rowe (of “Dirty Jobs” fame) to launch a little initiative called “I Make America.” What I couldn’t have predicted at that time is how IMA would steadily evolve into a powerhouse campaign that serves as a cornerstone for AEM’s advocacy efforts today.
I’m pleased to share that I Make America enjoyed its most successful year ever in 2016. Though this year’s election campaign season has often mystified everyday voters, we did our best job ever cutting through the clutter and conveying the importance of manufacturing issues directly to manufacturing voters.
We did that by visiting 35 AEM member company facilities across the United States this year. Thousands of member company employees had a chance to sign up as I Make America supporters and download and play the custom I Make America game we developed to help communicate industry issues to voters in a fun and accessible way.
This year’s campaign took us to some destinations we’ve never been before – like Caterpillar’s headquarters in Peoria, Kinze’s facility in Iowa and Superior Industries in Minnesota. And we also revisited some of the most stalwart supporters among AEM’s members (like Kondex, Woods and Volvo), who helped support and host this year’s campaign with unlimited enthusiasm.
These visits also helped to bring three governors and a dozen members of Congress to factories across the United States, where our elected leaders had a chance to meet with the men and women of the manufacturing workforce and learn more about how issues affect our industry. These visits also received more exposure than ever through both traditional and social media.
We also developed an unprecedented wealth of resources for both AEM members and manufacturing voters to educate themselves about the issues that matter. From a 50-state toolkit to explain manufacturing issues in each state to a series of videos about industry issues that earned more than 1 million views, I Make America served as a vital platform for our advocacy efforts in the context of this year’s elections.
The further good news is that the strides we made through I Make America in 2016 have helped to lay the foundation for an even more successful 2017 campaign. As voters prepare to elect our next president and new members of Congress, AEM and I Make America are more prepared than ever to take action on behalf of our industry thanks to the work we’ve done this past year, and in the five years before that.
To the 35 member companies that hosted the I Make America tour this year, and the countless other members actively supporting our campaign, we say, “Thank you!” We couldn’t have done it without your support.