Labor & Employment

To keep manufacturing an engine of the economy, we need labor policies that support flexibility and innovation.

Press Releases

NAM Survey: Manufacturers Face Major Headwinds, but Continue Operating in Support of COVID-19 Response

Despite Drop in Optimism and Worsening Business Conditions, Majority of Industry Keeping Doors Open

Washington, D.C. – The National Association of Manufacturers today released the results of the Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey for the second quarter of 2020 showing that despite a historic drop in optimism, to nearly 34%, and challenging business conditions, the vast majority of manufacturers (98.7%) have continued or only temporarily halted operations. The survey also shows that manufacturers are innovating to find solutions to keep businesses running and to protect workers and communities, with almost 22% retooling to produce personal protective equipment, 67% reengineering processes to reflect COVID-19 safety protocols and 12% completely reevaluating the mission of the firm.

Manufacturers have led the country through the COVID-19 response, and America is counting on our industry to lead our recovery and renewal, said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. While these numbers show that we’ve faced difficult circumstances and that there is a challenging road ahead, manufacturers have proven that with our grit, determination and patriotic spirit, we can overcome any challenge facing the nation. And in our ‘American Renewal Action Plan,’ the NAM has shown the way forward.

As policymakers and regulators debate solutions to help the economy recover from this pandemic, the NAM urges them to focus on the renewal agenda laid out in the “American Renewal Action Plan.” We have been encouraged by actions taken thus far, but there is still greater need for targeted liability reform, tax provisions to ensure investment in manufacturing and measures to reaffirm the U.S. supply chain to protect those businesses that continue to work on the front lines of the COVID-19 response to ensure as swift a recovery as possible.

The Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey has surveyed the association’s membership of 14,000 large and small manufacturers on a quarterly basis since 1997 to gain insight into their economic outlook, hiring and investment decisions and business concerns. The NAM releases the results to the public each quarter. Further information on the survey is available here.


The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 11.5 million men and women, contributes $2.38 trillion to the U.S. economy annually, has the largest economic multiplier of any major sector and accounts for more than three-quarters of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the Manufacturers or to follow us on Shopfloor, Twitter and Facebook, please visit

Press Releases

Manufacturers Release “American Renewal Action Plan”

Timmons: The Nation Is Counting on Manufacturers

Washington, D.C. – To strengthen the nation’s response to COVID-19 and ensure manufacturers are poised to lead the recovery and renewal of the American economy, the National Association of Manufacturers released the “American Renewal Action Plan.”

“Our industry has been on the front lines throughout this crisis, providing the equipment and products to keep our country safe, healthy and fed. The nation is counting on us to continue to play a leading role in this effort, and lawmakers must equip us with the tools we need,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. Timmons, a member of the White House’s COVID-19 Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups, added, “The NAM’s ‘American Renewal Action Plan’ is the path forward.”

The recommendations are outlined in three phases—response, recovery and renewal. Some of the key provisions include the following:

  • Response:
    • Congressional and administrative actions to allow manufacturers to further ramp up production and enhance distribution of personal protective equipment to support not only our hospitals, but all sectors of the economy.
  • Recovery:
    • Congressional and administrative actions to ensure that employees are able to go into work confident that proper health precautions are being implemented.
    • Strong and clear legal reforms that protect the essential manufacturers that must remain open to provide vital goods and those that retool their factories to make urgently needed equipment and supplies.
  • Renewal:
    • Significant investment in workforce training programs to aid dislocated workers.
    • Historic investment in our nation’s infrastructure to boost the economy.
    • Key reforms to boost economic and national security by growing the U.S. manufacturing industry.
    • Congressional and administrative actions to expand U.S. exports and strengthen the manufacturing supply chain.
    • The Treasury Department, Small Business Administration and Federal Reserve should speed the delivery of aid to small businesses by addressing key issues related to their new lending facilities.

The NAM released its “COVID-19 Policy Action Plan Recommendations” on March 9 to guide the government’s initial response to the pandemic. The association released an updated and expanded action plan on March 18. Congress and the administration have already adopted many of the proposals.


The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 12.8 million men and women, contributes $2.37 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and has the largest economic multiplier of any major sector and accounts for 63% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the Manufacturers or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit

Business Operations

Small Manufacturer Leverages Tax Reform to Weather Tough Times

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Rex Heat Treat, a commercial heat treatment company serving industries from aerospace and transportation to construction and defense, is tapping its tax reform benefits to support its workers, strengthen its business and invest in its future. A family-owned company since 1938 with facilities in Lansdale and Bedford, Pennsylvania, and Anniston, Alabama, Rex Heat Treat has been able to keep employees on board and purchase critical new equipment, even in challenging times.

“Without the benefit of tax reform, we might not be sitting in as good of a situation as we are,” said Rex Heat Treat General Manager Johnathan Rex. “We’d be a lot leaner in our bank account, possibly needing to draw on a line of credit to make payroll otherwise. As we weather the effects of COVID-19, these benefits will help us. Our business has more time to maintain our critical infrastructure workforce should this current situation continue on.”

In particular, the manufacturer has been able to use “full expensing,” which allows businesses to take a tax deduction for the cost of new equipment in the year it is bought, rather than taking smaller tax deductions over several years. This reduces the cost of buying capital equipment and accelerates depreciation deductions for manufacturers and business owners, which decreases the company’s tax bill in the year of purchase and frees up cash for that purchase. For a capital-intensive industry like manufacturing, where the latest technology is key to production, this kind of support can be vital, especially among smaller manufacturers with tighter margins.

“Full expensing allows us not just to accelerate the last investment we made but to accelerate the next one—because it’s cash in hand,” said Rex. “We want to do this as quickly as possible, but you can also run your business into the ground if you invest too quickly. Allowing a company to aggressively invest in itself and maintain some cash is a big help.”

As manufacturers around the globe deal with the challenges posed by COVID-19, tax reform has helped give small businesses the resources to protect their employees and their customers.

“Tax policies that allow manufacturers to keep and invest more of their earnings are critically important in uncertain times,” said National Association of Manufacturers Vice President of Tax and Domestic Economic Policy Chris Netram. “As we respond to today’s challenges and prepare for the future, building upon pro-growth policies like these can help support workers, businesses and communities nationwide.”

Business Operations

Manufacturer Cleans Medical Facilities’ Air During COVID-19

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Overwhelmed medical facilities are expanding and placing urgent orders for HVAC systems, putting AAON, Inc., a commercial heating and cooling equipment manufacturer based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19.

On March 29, AAON President and Director Gary Fields received a phone call from one of their sales partners in New York City regarding the need for a new temporary hospital.

“The city was a hotspot for coronavirus. Its permanent care facilities were overwhelmed,” said Fields. “City officials wanted to know what AAON could do to get a temporary space up by April 18. A total of three weeks.”

The temporary medical facility would need heating and cooling units with HEPA filtration systems, which are required in most medical facilities to ensure that recirculated air is clean. That meant standard “off-the-shelf” products wouldn’t work. AAON’s existing inventory also would not fit the bill. The facility needed something big enough to serve large spaces with only a few connections and small enough so the units could be unloaded and positioned using a traditional crane. So AAON sprang into action to design and manufacture the right products.

By the following evening, the project had begun to take shape. The temporary medical facility would involve a total of five tents, requiring 2,200 tons of air conditioning equipment with HEPA capabilities. On March 31 at 5:30 p.m., AAON received the official order. By the next morning at 6:00 a.m., the first of 44 identical 50-ton units began moving down the production line.

AAON team members worked around the clock to complete the order. Three days later, they completed the 44th and final unit, and by April 6, the units had all been delivered—well ahead of schedule.

In addition, AAON has been simultaneously producing other COVID-19 emergency supplies. The State University of New York College at Old Westbury requested 36 similar HVAC units to serve as an additional temporary medical site, and the manufacturer is currently filling orders for facilities in Cranston, Rhode Island, and Denver, Colorado, as well. AAON also recently sent five prototype UV light cabinets to a Springfield, Missouri, hospital, which plans to use them to disinfect masks and other materials.

“AAON was pleased to participate in the effort for this urgent shipment,” said Stephanie Cameron, Community Relations Administrator at AAON, who is also a member of the Manufacturing Institute’s Board of Advisors and a 2015 STEP Ahead Awards Honoree. “As an essential manufacturer of HVAC systems, we are doing all we can for our customers that have AAON equipment on critical infrastructure, and those customers that need new equipment or parts for critical infrastructure.”

Manufacturers around the country are stepping up to help their communities during this pandemic.

“In tough times, the men and women who make things in America can always be counted on to lead the fight,” said National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons. “Today, manufacturers are delivering on that promise and working to keep America healthy and strong.”

Business Operations

Manufacturer Bears Down on COVID-19

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Photo courtesy of Ketchie Inc. and Mazak

Ketchie, Inc., a woman-owned, North Carolina-based manufacturer with 26 employees, has been supplying a mounted ball bearing product line to distributors since 1975. Now it is a critical part of the nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many of Ketchie’s bearing products go through a network of industrial distributors that supply hospitals across the United States. One customer in California creates cooling towers, most of which serve medical and health care facilities. Another manufacturer’s housed rubber bearing units supplied by Ketchie will be going into blower units circulating fresh air into New York City hospitals, where the COVID-19 outbreak has been particularly widespread.

As governors around the country consider whether to shutter workplaces or declare them essential, Ketchie, Inc. President Courtney Silver argues that manufacturers at all levels are doing indispensable work.

“It’s all interconnected,” said Silver. “It takes all the big corporations and all these smaller businesses across the country to make it all work.”

Beyond its own need to keep running in order to supply hospitals and other critical infrastructure such as water and sewage plants and power companies, which all experience more stress during a pandemic, Silver emphasized how various components of the supply chain are vital to her manufacturing operation.

“We rely on foundries for castings, because I have to machine that casting to make that bearing housing, and then I rely on bearing manufacturers to make my inserts, and then I assemble and ship it out,” said Silver. “Even the little grease fitting that I would screw into the top of the bearing housing—I need my fastener distributor open and shipping me grease fittings. They seem like the littlest things, but we all have to support each other and continue to work through this time together.”

Ketchie is already following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including ensuring that all employees are working at least six feet apart and frequently sanitizing high-touch areas. As government officials consider whether facilities like hers should continue to operate, Silver hopes to continue doing her part for the COVID-19 response.

“Every small business is in a cash crunch,” said Silver. “I’m confident we can get through this. We’re trying our best to remain positive and take the time to see what we’re learning so we can come out even stronger.”

“We are facing an extraordinary challenge, and America’s manufacturers are helping to lead the charge,” said Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers. “Across the country, manufacturing heroes are supporting our infrastructure, strengthening our health care systems and creating the innovations that will save lives. As we have throughout history, in this time of crisis, manufacturers are answering the call.”

Business Operations

CARES Act Offers Support for Manufacturers Affected by COVID-19

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On March 27, 2020, President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act. National Association of Manufacturers Director of Tax and Domestic Economic Policy Charles Crain explains its significance.

What is the CARES Act? 

The CARES Act is essentially a rescue vehicle for the economy. It’s not a long-term stimulus package, but rather a short-term emergency spending package to provide a specific injection of funds right now.

We’re facing a dramatic economic slowdown. Businesses don’t have the capital they need to operate because there’s not a lot of commerce going on. People are staying safe, staying inside and spending less money than they ordinarily would, and that has an impact on the economy generally and businesses specifically. The CARES Act is designed to provide capital for businesses and capital for families to weather the crisis.

How does the CARES Act help?

It does a number of different things. Because of the NAM’s leadership and advocacy, the CARES Act includes many of manufacturers’ priorities—priorities we first outlined in the NAM’s “COVID-19 Policy Action Plan Recommendations.”

First, the CARES Act offers almost $350 billion in loans to small businesses. The Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program provides loans up to $10 million, and as long as the loans are used to keep employees on payroll or on certain overhead costs like rent, mortgage interest or utilities, that loan will be forgiven.

Second, the CARES Act helps companies keep their employees, both through the PPP and through the Employee Retention Tax Credit, which allows eligible businesses that don’t use the PPP for payroll to claim a tax credit.

Third, the CARES Act allows for businesses to defer employer payroll taxes from March 27 until the end of this year, with half of it due at the end of 2021 and the other half at the end of 2022.

Fourth, it temporarily increases allowable interest deductions from 30% to 50% for 2019 and 2020, helping to provide critical liquidity for businesses.

Fifth, it sends money directly to American families in the form of relief checks up to $1,200 per qualifying individual and up to $500 per child, which helps employees and business owners alike.

How can manufacturers access the programs they need?

There’s a wide range of agencies involved in this effort and many are operating on different timelines. The Paycheck Protection Program, for example, has already begun—eligible businesses can now apply for loans directly with their local lender. For our members, the NAM provides important deadlines and points of access, as we have done with information about loans and tax provisions so far.

Where can manufacturers get more information?

The NAM regularly updates COVID-19 resources for manufacturers. Helpful links for small businesses are also available.

Business Operations

Manufacturer Helps Patients Breathe Easier

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Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation, based in West Columbia, S.C., makes a significant portion of the nebulizer medicines used in the treatment of COVID-19 in the United States.

Typically, Nephron produces about 85 million doses of inhalation solution every month. As orders skyrocket for treatments used to combat respiratory illnesses like COVID-19, the manufacturer is working tirelessly to keep up with demand.

“We have all of our production lines going at 100 percent, and we’re rewarding faster changeover times to make sure we get them quickly cleaned, steamed and back in operation for the next batch,” said Nephron Pharmaceuticals CEO and owner Lou Kennedy. “We’ve more than doubled production. I predicted we might reach 110 million batches this month—and as of the end of March, we were at 193 million. We’re operating at max capacity, and orders are still coming in.”

Nephron has been in touch with federal regulators, including the Food and Drug Administration, seeking permission to open six additional product lines. Kennedy hopes to move forward with those additional lines in the near future in order to expand capacity and deliver additional products. So far, Kennedy has been encouraged by the FDA response.

“I can tell you that we have never seen a more responsive FDA,” said Kennedy. “All things are moving at breakneck speed, and I am so appreciative for that.”

In addition to serving patients across the country, Nephron is working to ensure that its employees stay safe and healthy, with temperature checks for every employee at shift changes and a ban on outside visitors at the facility. In addition to producing medication, Nephron is making hand sanitizer for employees’ use and will donate much of the surplus product to community organizations. In order to serve employees who need childcare assistance as schools close and daycare centers cease to operate, Nephron has organized a group of certified K-12 teachers to safely provide childcare from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Even as some workplaces shut down, manufacturers like Nephron continue to produce and innovate at high speed, helping to deliver medical supplies and other essential products at a time of urgent need across the country.

“Every moment we’re involved in something new,” said Kennedy. “It’s just amazing how this country is coming together—and we’re so happy to do anything we can. Any little bit of help, we’re glad to do it.”

“In times of significant need, manufacturers have always stepped forward to answer the call,” said Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers. “As we face this period of challenge and uncertainty, we are delivering for our customers, for our communities, for our country and for the world.”

Business Operations

VP Pence Thanks Manufacturers for COVID-19 Response

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Vice President Mike Pence recently joined 3,000 manufacturing leaders on a call hosted by the National Association of Manufacturers and the NAM’s Manufacturing Leadership Council regarding the COVID-19 response. He provided an update on the administration’s efforts to fight the spread of COVID-19, detailed the NAM’s work with the administration to coordinate the industry’s response and thanked manufacturers for the work they have done across the country to provide and produce vital supplies.

“The efforts of so many of you have truly been inspiring, and at times, at great cost,” said Pence. “It is clear to the president, it is clear to his vice president, and clear, I know, to the American people that American business is putting America’s health first.”

Pence specifically mentioned ASO LLC, a consumer medical supplies manufacturer in Sarasota, Florida, that stepped forward to produce 1.2 million medical gloves for health care workers. He also mentioned other ways manufacturers are stepping up, including by donating millions of N95 masks to health care workers in impacted areas.

Pence urged manufacturers to examine their inventories for equipment that could be donated to local hospitals, to communicate the White House’s health and safety guidelines to employees and to continue working with the NAM as it helps mobilize the industry to deliver and produce urgently needed supplies. The NAM has been in close contact with the White House’s Office of Emergency Supply Production, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Federal Emergency Management Administration, the Department of Health and Human Services and other key federal agencies.

“So many of you play a critical role in the life of this nation and critical infrastructure industry,” said Vice President Pence. “We want to work with you to find a way to continue to move forward, to continue to produce and continue to operate.”

In addition to the vice president’s remarks, Todd Niemeier of the CDC’s COVID-19 Response-Health Systems and Worker Safety Task Force provided manufacturing-focused guidance, and The Hershey Company’s Vice President of Engineering Will Bonifant and Senior Director of Manufacturing, Global Supply Chain Tim Hinegardner shared steps the manufacturer is taking to protect their employees and the public.

“As manufacturers have throughout our history, we are going to be part of the solution,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. “We are responding, we are mobilizing and we are leading the country.”

The NAM is continuing to provide coronavirus resources for manufacturers, connecting businesses with guidance from appropriate government officials and agencies and providing updates on the state of the manufacturing industry.

For more information, including best practices, CDC resources and more, go to

Press Releases

Business Roundtable, NAM Combine COVID-19 Response Efforts to Address Critical Shortages

Partnership Brings Together Full Strength of U.S. Business and Manufacturing Communities

Washington, D.C. – The National Association of Manufacturers and Business Roundtable are joining forces to strengthen the business community’s response to the critical supplies shortage facing the nation’s medical community due to COVID-19. The partnership brings together the full strength of the U.S. business and manufacturing communities to help those on the front lines of the pandemic. NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons and Business Roundtable President & CEO Joshua Bolten will serve as co-chairs of this effort.

The NAM and Business Roundtable will help consolidate efforts across industry sectors in the United States and report the data to the federal government. The NAM and Business Roundtable are encouraging their members to share information on medical supplies and equipment, including personal protective equipment and test kits, through a co-developed online survey. The data will capture existing supplies as well as where new manufacturing capacity can be tapped to address shortages nationwide.

Upon announcement of this partnership, Vice President Mike Pence offered the following statement:

“Our nation’s job creators have embraced President Trump’s ‘whole-of-America’ response to the coronavirus outbreak and have quickly mobilized to find innovative solutions for the challenges ahead of us,” said Vice President Mike Pence. “From coast to coast, America’s businesses have brought a truly extraordinary response to this moment, and they should be commended for answering the call and being part of the solution.”

Upon announcement of this partnership, Bolten and Timmons released the following statements:

“Only through a concerted effort can this country address the current shortages of critical medical supplies and equipment,” said Bolten. “Working with our members to identify excess inventories as well as additional manufacturing bandwidth is one way we can help those on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19. Our goal is to keep all Americans healthier and safer.”

“Manufacturers in America are reigniting the ‘arsenal of democracy’ and mobilizing to help our nation overcome this historic crisis, and it is inspiring to see thousands of manufacturers stepping up to join the fight over just the past two weeks,” said Timmons. “By combining the NAM’s nationwide efforts with the work of Business Roundtable, we will be even more effective in our vital work. We are coordinating directly with the administration and manufacturing leaders to identify existing equipment and ramp up production of urgently needed health supplies. America’s creators will respond to this challenge, just as we have throughout history. We are all in this together as we fight to keep our country healthy and strong.”


The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 12.8 million men and women, contributes $2.37 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and has the largest economic multiplier of any major sector and accounts for 63% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the Manufacturers or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit


Business Roundtable CEO members lead companies with more than 15 million employees and $7.5 trillion in revenues. The combined market capitalization of Business Roundtable member companies is the equivalent of over 27 percent of total U.S. stock market capitalization, and Business Roundtable members invest nearly $147 billion in research and development – equal to over 40 percent of total U.S. private R&D spending. Our companies pay $296 billion in dividends to shareholders and generate $488 billion in revenues for small and medium-sized businesses. Business Roundtable companies also make more than $8 billion in charitable contributions.

Business Operations

Manufacturer Racks Up New Product in COVID-19 Response

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Marlin Steel Wire Products team member creates newly designed test-tube racks critical to COVID-19 testing efforts in the U.S.
Marlin Steel Wire Products team member James Branch creates newly designed test-tube racks critical to COVID-19 testing efforts in the U.S.

At 6:15 p.m. on Friday, Marlin Steel Wire Products, a Baltimore-based wire and sheet metal fabricator, received an urgent order. A client conducting coronavirus testing needed a large set of test-tube racks by Monday morning to continue work. Marlin had never designed test-tube racks before, but the company sprang into action.

It was a race against time. During a week when employees had already worked 40 to 60 hours—and on a day when some had begun at 6:00 a.m.—a group volunteered to work through the weekend. After working until 10:30 p.m. on Friday, they started again at 6:00 a.m. on Saturday, working until 10:00 p.m. that evening and resuming early Sunday morning. At 1:40 p.m. on Sunday—just 43 hours from the moment they received the request—the racks were ready to ship.

Still, the work continued. The client asked Marlin to send the racks by plane—but when Marlin’s staff arrived at the airport, their flight was canceled. Undeterred, Marlin loaded the racks into a truck with two drivers to cover the 1,100-mile journey. By Monday morning, they were unloading the racks—fewer than 65 hours after receiving the order.

“This team is extraordinary. They’re manufacturing heroes,” said Drew Greenblatt, Marlin’s president and owner and a member of the National Association of Manufacturers Executive Committee. “Despite working 40 to 60 hours during the week, they dropped everything, pulled together and used an extra 30 hours to get things done. This is Rosie the Riveter stuff.”

While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold, the company is taking extra measures to protect employees; keeping workers at least six feet apart, sanitizing workstations and door handles frequently, and ensuring that employees able to work from home can do so. Greenblatt emphasized manufacturers’ importance to the effort against COVID-19 and the need for factories to stay open.

“That lab cannot determine if COVID-19 is in that test tube unless they have that wire rack, and I can’t manufacture that wire rack if I don’t have my steel suppliers in Illinois or my cardboard box manufacturer in Maryland or my employees in our facility,” said Greenblatt. “We’re doing this so they can accomplish their mission. We need to keep factories open because we’re making the goods that keep our world functioning.”

The NAM, working with state association partners, has asked governors and municipal leaders nationwide to declare manufacturing facilities “essential” so that businesses like Marlin Steel can continue their lifesaving work.

“Manufacturers in America are mobilizing to help our nation overcome this historic crisis,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. “America’s creators will respond to this challenge, as we have throughout history. We’re in this together as we fight to keep our country healthy and strong.”

“Small manufacturers can help defeat COVID-19,” said Greenblatt. “Many make products that help labs or hospitals. Let the NAM know and let your governor know: your products and team can play a critical role to save lives.”

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