What Does the Future Hold for American Manufacturing?

The state of US manufacturing is likely to become a major campaign issue - Getty Images

The state of US manufacturing is likely to become a major campaign issue - Getty Images

Written by: BBC North America editor, Mark Mardell 

Drew Greenblatt is an enthusiast: proud of his company, Marlin Steel, and proud of the factory floor packed with state-of-the-art equipment.

I watch, fascinated, as a little white robot squeezes out a wire, putting kinks and bends in it as it emerges.

Then it hands it over to a slightly larger yellow robot, which holds it steady for a twist in the end before turning it over for another twist at the other end.

Oddly, I find this cutting-edge equipment rather cute and cartoonish.

The question is whether this endearing duo are merely the remnants of America’s industrial past or the sort of equipment that will make the USA world-beaters once again.

The factory floor space at Marlin Steel is being doubled and there is no doubt the company is doing well, prospering even, during the bad years. Read more of this post

FDA Says Brazil’s Orange Juice Is Safe, But Still Illegal

 

Antonio Scorza/AFP/Getty Images Oranges for sale at a market in Rio de Janeiro.

Antonio Scorza/AFP/Getty Images Oranges for sale at a market in Rio de Janeiro.

NPR      by DAN CHARLES  February 22, 2012

If you happen to notice sometime later this year that you’re suddenly paying a lot more for orange juice, you can blame America’s food safety authorities. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, after several weeks of deliberation, has blocked imports of frozen, concentrated orange juice from Brazil, probably for the next 18 months or so, even though the agency says the juice is perfectly safe.

The FDA’s explanation is that its hands are legally tied. Its tests show that practically all concentrated juice from Brazil currently contains traces of the fungicide carbendazim, first detected in December by Coca-Cola, maker of Minute Maid juices. The amounts are small — so small that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says no consumers should be concerned.

The problem is, carbendazim has not been used on oranges in the U.S. in recent years, and the legal permission to use it on that crop has lapsed. As a result, there’s not a legal “tolerance” for residues of this pesticide in orange products. Read more of this post

The State of the Union: Small Firms Weigh In

President Obama’s State of the Union Address Tuesday night touched on deficit reduction, tax and regulatory reform, exporting, and other issues of interest to small business owners.

But some entrepreneurs and small-business groups said that they believe the speech didn’t go far enough in citing specific solutions that can help spur growth and hiring, among other things.

[sbsotu]Getty Images

The president highlighted the importance of small firms in the U.S. economy. He also emphasized the need to help them grow and hire in the U.S., through tax reform and regulatory reform. But he stopped short of listing the small-business tax provisions and regulatory challenges he hoped to change.

For a detailed look at other aspects of the address, click here. For an analysis of his proposals for Congress to consider, clickhere.

Small-business owners didn’t get anywhere near the level of attention that they received in his State of the Union address two years ago. Then, Mr. Obama mentioned small businesses more than a dozen times. He also called on Congress to craft several pieces of legislation that directly impact small businesses, a few of which were later signed into law.

Leading up to this year’s address, Mitch Marrow, founder of SPOT Group LLC, a New York doggie day care and dog services firm, said he hoped the president would address liquidity issues facing small firms.

His company has grown to 135 employees at six locations and is poised for expansion. But Mr. Marrow has had trouble accessing a line of credit that could help his firm meet its potential because, he said, he’s only been in business for about a year.

Mr. Obama touched on capital constraints but didn’t offer specifics on how to loosen credit for small firms. Mr. Marrow, who formerly worked in the hedge fund industry, said he was discouraged that the president opted instead to speak about the need for strict oversight in the financial sector because “that equates to less lending and liquidity,” he said. Mr. Marrow says he is a fiscally-conservative Independent who didn’t vote for Mr. Obama in 2008.

Mr. Marrow also wanted to hear about employment incentives, such as tax breaks for hiring and training new employees. But the president focused instead on incentives for bringing overseas jobs back to American shores, which doesn’t apply to Mr. Marrow’s business.

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