Farr Sees Strong Tailwinds for Manufacturing

By Nicklaus, David | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), February 25, 2018 | Go to article overview

Farr Sees Strong Tailwinds for Manufacturing


Nicklaus, David, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


David Farr has spent his life in manufacturing, and he says it's been a long time since he's been this optimistic about the sector's future.

Farr, Emerson's chief executive, is halfway through a two-year term as chairman of the National Association of Manufacturers. After visiting Ranken Technical College last week during the group's eight-state State of Manufacturing tour, Farr sat down to discuss both industry issues and Emerson's outlook.

Citing the recent corporate tax cut and red-tape-cutting moves by President Donald Trump, Farr said incentives are now in place for factory owners to upgrade their plants. Among other projects, Emerson is investing $63 million in its InSinkErator plant in Racine, Wis., and $100 million in a compressor plant in Sidney, Ohio.

Farr has been a longtime critic of U.S. tax and regulatory policy. "Our government was saying we don't want you here," he said.

With the U.S. corporate tax rate falling from 35 percent to 21 percent, and with generous tax breaks for capital investments, he now feels welcome. He says Emerson will now pay a lower tax rate than its European rivals.

"We now have a competitive advantage," Farr said. "That's why I'm so excited about what I see ahead." He expects European and Asian manufacturers to open factories in the U.S. to take advantage of the lower tax rate.

If they do, they'll exacerbate one of U.S. manufacturers' looming problems: a shortage of workers. The NAM estimates that manufacturers have 365,000 unfilled jobs now and will need to fill 3.5 million jobs in the next seven years.

The group included Ranken on its tour to highlight efforts to attract and train future factory workers.

Emerson is one of six companies backing Ranken's new manufacturing incubator, where students will produce parts for real-world products. Emerson, based in Ferguson, also provides scholarships to 250 Ranken students from north St. …

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