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An "Energetic Government" Aids Exports

In April, 1789, on the way to his first inauguration in New York, George Washington stopped in Wilmington, Delaware to meet with the Delaware Society for Promoting Domestic Manufactures. He told them, “The promotion of domestic manufactures will, in my conception, be among the first consequences which may naturally be expected to flow from an energetic government.” (From “Washington, A Life,” by Ron Chernow, published 2010.)

That sentiment is echoed today by the Obama Administration’s National Export Initiative. We reported in the March/April issue of IDR that Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, on a visit to Ellicott Dredges in February, said “especially small- and medium-sized enterprises are going to have a more vigorous partner in the U.S government, which would educate U.S. farmers and businesses about opportunities overseas, and directly connect them with new customers.”

Illustrating its appreciation for the importance of small businesses, the Obama administration specifically mentioned a delivery by Ellicott Dredges of two dredges when describing contracts included in a multi-billion-dollar group of exports to India, in conjunction with the president’s visit to that country. This shows a fine appreciation of all levels of industry by the president, and as I told a White House representative when I called to get a photo, the dredging industry is always happy when a presidential administration takes notice of it.

In recent decades I have watched as manufacturers in this country were acquired and shut down by overseas competitors, and as U.S.-owned companies have outsourced their manufacturing to other countries, in both scenarios sometimes eliminating a large percentage of the jobs in their home communities.

The National Export Initiative is aimed at helping to correct the negative effect of these activities, and our Dredge Manufacturing feature in this issue focuses on exporting; reporting the role dredging is playing in the U.S. economy. The companies in the feature–Dredge & Marine Corporation, Dredging Supply Company and Ellicott Dredges–have traditionally been exporters, but this aspect has taken on new urgency as the world economy struggles to right itself.

All three of our subject companies have weathered economic storms through the years, while continuing to grow and expand, and all are doing well today, supplying both the domestic and overseas need for well-engineered dredges, with the help of state and federal agencies. This can also be said for hundreds of other suppliers in our industry, who provide dredges and parts, engineering and all the other equipment demanded in building and operating dredges.
For our overseas friends, a healthy, functioning U.S. economy will provide good import and export opportunities.

In the words of Commerce Secretary Locke, besides helping prospective exporters with advice and contacts, “the initiative will help improve access to credit for small- and medium-sized business, and will enforce international trade laws to ensure that U.S. companies get open and fair access to foreign markets.”

George Washington’s “energetic government” promoting “domestic manufactures” is alive and well.

Judith Powers

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