September 4, 2011

Jonathan Riskind: Let's put our foot down on U.S.-made athletic shoes

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U.S. Sen. Olympia J. Snowe, R-Maine, center, tours the New Balance factory in Norridgewock. Maine’s congressional delegation is trying to promote military use of American-made shoes.

Kennebec Journal file photo

"If the military offers a procurement opportunity, others will come to the table," such as American manufacturers of dress shoes and work boots, said Matt LeBretton, New Balance's director of public affairs. "We have recruited other shoeware makers. A number of companies have said they are interested."

Maine lawmakers say the issue isn't complicated.

"There's nothing that prevents any of the other shoe manufactures from re-basing their operations in the United States if they want to compete for this market," Collins said. "As long as the Berry Amendment is on the books, from my perspective it ought to be complied with."

When Michaud toured the New Balance plant in Skowhegan, he said he would write a letter to President Obama calling on the president to direct the secretary of defense to buy American athletic shoes. It's a simple matter of holding Obama to his commitment to preserve U.S. manufacturing jobs, Michaud said.

Directing the Defense department to figure out a way to reasonably buy American-made shoes along with all the other American-made apparel it buys for soldiers probably won't be on the list of proposals that Obama puts forward Thursday night in his joint address to Congress, or on the rebuttal list of job creation ideas that GOP leaders will crank out in response.

Perhaps it should be.

MaineToday Media Washington Bureau Chief Jonathan Riskind can be contacted at 791-6280 or at:


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