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September 17, 2021

What King's 'Made in the USA' bill may mean for Maine manufacturers

Close up of a Maine flag being sewn, showing hand of sewer and machine File photo / Tim Greenway A bipartisan bill co-sponsored by U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, would establish a new federal standard for labeling products as "Made in the U.S.A." or "Made in America." Shown here is a work in progress at Maine Flag Co. in Portland.

A  bill passed unanimously in the U.S. Senate this week and co-sponsored by U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, that establishes a uniform federal standard for products "Made in the U.S.A." is seen as a big plus for Maine manufacturers.

The bipartisan "Reinforcing American-Made Products Act" (S. 297) introduced by King and U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, next heads to the U.S. House of Representatives for a vote.

Currently, businesses that make their products in the United States face a patchwork of different state laws — leading to more red tape and higher costs to sell goods with the designation. 

The bill aims to fix that by creating one national standard, by ensuring the federal government maintains authority in setting country-of-origin labeling standards and that states do not create conflicting or inconsistent standards governing interstate and exported goods. 

“This bill will make it easier for Maine companies to communicate clearly to consumers that they manufacture high-quality products and create good-paying jobs right here in the United States," King said in a statement emailed to Mainebiz. "Companies that invest in American workers should be rewarded for their efforts — and by clarifying patchwork rules on the ‘Made in USA’ labels, we can give consumers the information they need to vote with their wallet

New Balance building entrance in Norridgewock exterior
Courtesy / New Balance Inc.
New Balance Inc. factories in Maine include this one in Norridgewock.

and support American manufacturers.”

Lisa Martin, executive director of the Manufacturers Association of Maine, a Portland-based nonprofit trade group representing more than 400 members, told Mainebiz the new law bodes well for Maine manufacturers. 

“We see this as a way of keeping manufacturing in the U.S. and in Maine, creating well-paying jobs in manufacturing," she said. "This advances a chief goal of the Maine governor's economic plan, to increase GDP and meet the goal of increasing the workforce’s wages by 10%. Manufacturing, with an average annual wage of $62,300, will help meet these goals."

Martin also said that while the King sponsored legislation is a step forward, "there is still more work to be done to break down regulations and create policies to grow the manufacturing sector in Maine and nationwide.

An executive with New Balance Inc., a Boston-based sports footwear and apparel brand with 700 employees in Maine, also welcomed the new legislation.

"This is a great win for American manufacturing," said Amy Dow, New Balance’s director of public relations and government affairs, in a news release from Washington, D.C.

"We applaud this legislation that supports our hundreds of New Balance associates in Maine at our Norridgewock, Norway and Skowhegan factories who are proudly producing our premium Made in U.S.A. athletic footwear,” she said.


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