This Is How Local & Federal Government Can Help US Shoemakers

The U.S. manufacturing sector saw some small gains in March, according to a recent report by the Institute for Supply Management, as production, new orders and hiring all improved. However, the industry still faces headwinds, most notably that overseas demand continues to decline, and domestic growth has slowed following last year’s economic stimulus.

Over the past two years, the Trump administration has pledged its support for U.S. manufacturers, and many state and local leaders are helping to strengthen the industry through public policy.

As part of FN’s annual “Made in America” issue, we asked four companies that produce shoes stateside how the government could be the biggest help to U.S. manufacturers.

Sara Irvani
CEO, Okabashi Brands (Georgia)
“We rely on our government to support ancillary local businesses and thereby create a virtuous ecosystem that can scale. This starts with tax incentives for manufacturers and in Opportunity Zones. Our local and federal government also needs to continue investing in infrastructure, from local highways to ports, which are crucial to redefining retail supply chains.”

George Esquivel
Designer & Founder, Esquivel Shoes (California)
“The government could nurture a government-funded apprenticeship program as exists in Europe. Such a program would help grow the workforce and give someone interested in entering the footwear industry the skills needed for a successful career path.”

John Andreliunas
President and CEO, Quoddy (Maine)
“Health care is the toughest hurdle today. In most cases, it is prohibitively expensive for the employer and employee.”

Nancy Richardson
CEO, San Antonio Shoemakers (Texas)
“Over the past 40-plus years, there have been a lot of needed laws and regulations put into place around labor, safety and the environment. While these have produced positive outcomes, there is a fear of overregulation, which decreases the industry’s flexibility to respond to an ever-changing business environment.”

Take a tour inside a New York City shoe factory:

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