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March 16, 2018

New Balance lands $17M contract to make sneakers for U.S. military

Courtesy / New Balance
Courtesy / New Balance
The Department of Defense has awarded New Balance a $17.3 million firm-fixed-price contract to provide American-made athletic shoes to initial entry service members upon arrival at basic training. The contract fulfills the long-ignored Berry amendment, passed in 1941, requiring the U.S. military to provide its personnel with American-made equipment and uniforms to the greatest extent possible.

The Department of Defense has awarded New Balance a $17.3 million firm-fixed-price contract to provide American-made athletic shoes to initial entry service members upon arrival at basic training.

Boston-based New Balance, which has manufacturing facilities in Skowhegan, Norridgewock, and Norway, secured one of three contracts awarded by the DOD for American-made athletic footwear under the provision. The contract, awarded by the Defense Logistics Agency, contains a base performance period of 18-months, with an additional 18-month option contract clause.

The contract fulfills the long-ignored the Berry Amendment, passed in 1941, requiring the U.S. military to provide its personnel with American-made equipment and uniforms to the greatest extent possible. As reported by Mainebiz and others, Maine's congressional delegation has been pushing hard for several years to get the Pentagon to fully observe that law by purchasing American-made athletic footwear for new recruits.

"Despite the fact that it issues similar Berry compliant items such as combat boots and service uniforms, the entire Department of Defense has not previously issued new recruits athletic footwear that is compliant with the Berry Amendment," U.S. Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, Angus King, I-Maine, and U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine District 2, stated in a joint news release announce New Balance's Pentagon contract.

The members of the Maine delegation fought for the inclusion of a provision in the fiscal year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act that required the Department of Defense to consider athletic footwear subject to the Berry Amendment by providing initial entry service members with American-made athletic shoes upon arrival at basic training.

"There are nearly 1,000 New Balance employees in Skowhegan, Norridgewock, and Norway who work hard to manufacture high-quality, American-made athletic footwear," Collins, King and Poliquin said in their joint statement. "By including our provision in the fiscal year 2017 NDAA and ensuring the Department of Defense applies the Berry Amendment to athletic footwear for recruits, the Pentagon is now rightly prioritizing American workers and supporting American jobs to equip U.S. troops."

The provision included in the final fiscal year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act is similar to the "Buy American Act" introduced by Sens. King and Collins as well as the "Stepping up for American Workers and Troops Act" introduced by Rep. Poliquin. Both bills were introduced in 2016.

King, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, fought to successfully add the legislation as an amendment to the Senate version of the NDAA during the committee's markup of the bill. Poliquin also fought for its inclusion in the House version of the NDAA and successfully petitioned fellow members in the House, Democrats and Republicans to vote down an amendment that would have stripped it out.

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