The continued economic success of manufacturers rely on a reliable transportation path to obtain raw materials and deliver finalized products.
In support of this vital need, Governor Rick Snyder last week committed $50 million of state revenue toward the national effort to rebuild the Soo Locks, a vital thoroughfare for bringing iron ore, grain, building materials and manufactured goods to locations around the world.
“Upgrading the Soo Locks is one of the most critical ways we can ensure the continued success of Michigan’s economic comeback,” said Snyder. “The nation’s entire economy depends on the daily operation of the Soo Locks. Without it, we would not be able to deliver the American iron ore that domestic steel manufacturers depend on to run their mills, and our manufacturing industry would not have access to the high quality domestic steel it needs to make everything from auto parts to office furniture.”
Governor Snyder was joined by Lt. Governor Brian Calley, Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof (R-Grand Haven), Speaker of the House Tom Leonard (R-Dewitt) and Hanna Naltner of Steelcase Inc., the Michigan-based global manufacturer of office furniture and an MMA member company.
“We have come to understand how quickly our supply base could be impacted if the locks were to shut (down),” said Naltner. “In West Michigan, we have an amazing talent pool, we have the best workers in the region, great factories, (but) no raw materials. That’s a problem. We want to make sure that our supply base has the raw materials they need.”
The $50 million in state funding would be the first step in the effort to invite the other Great Lakes States to make the putting up of matching funds a priority. The Soo Locks handles more than 75 million tons of commerce annually and saves upwards of $3.5 billion per year in transportation costs. A closure could also result in 75 percent of the U.S. integrated steel production ceasing within two to six weeks followed by imminent shut downs of iron ore production and Michigan-based manufacturing across countless industries.
MMA and manufacturers across Michigan support the effort to rebuild the Soo Locks as a necessity for both a state and national manufacturing-based economy.
“The Soo Locks helps ensure millions of jobs in Michigan and nationally. It is such a vital resource that experts estimate a six-month shutdown of the Locks could result in a jobs loss of eleven million workers,” said Chuck Hadden, MMA president & CEO. “By properly funding a reconstruction of the Soo Locks, we keep those manufacturing jobs, continue Michigan’s economic prosperity and double-down on a key national security concern.”
People interested in learning more about the effort to maintain this vital infrastructure can go to www.michigan.gov/fixthesoolocks.
This article originally appeared in the 6/5/18 issue of MFG Voice.