Buy America Creates Jobs: Transportation Secretary LaHood to Award $63 Million for Arizona Streetcar Project Supporting Jobs across the Nation

Washington, DC, February 18, 2010.  U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will award the City of Tucson, AZ with $63 million in federal stimulus funds today for the construction of a four-mile, $150 million modern streetcar system that will utilize streetcars manufactured by United Streetcar, LLC in Clackamas, OR.  The streetcars are the first to be manufactured in the United States in 60 years, and thanks to Buy America policies, are spawning a domestic supply chain that is supporting good, middle-income jobs across America.

The announcement comes on the one-year anniversary of passage of the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which included $1.5 billion for surface transportation projects through the TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) Discretionary Grant Program.  The ARRA has Buy America rules that direct tax dollars toward the purchase of American-made manufactured goods, so that public investment supports manufacturing jobs in America rather than “leaking” overseas.   The Federal Transit Administration has permanent domestic content requirements dating back to the Reagan Administration.  Both the City of Tucson and Pima County, Arizona have already passed their own Buy America resolutions as an additional pledge to support American jobs.  As a result, the streetcars and other manufactured goods used in the project will come from American factories instead of being imported from factories abroad.

Scott Paul, Executive Director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM), said, “Buy America requirements have the potential to rejuvenate established industries, create new ones, and expand capacity throughout supply chains for small businesses.  A prime example is United Streetcar of Clackamas, Oregon, which is building the first modern streetcars to be manufactured in America in nearly 60 years.”

Federal funding for the Tucson streetcar project will create and support American manufacturing jobs for an entire supply chain of companies, small and large, both locally and throughout the United States.  For instance, supplier Miles Fiberglass of Portland, Oregon manufactures front and rear shell pieces for the streetcars.  In 2009, it was forced to lay off 35 workers, but it then rehired 10 workers because of new business.

Said Paul, “Buy America provisions enhance the job creating effect of our limited taxpayer dollars.  Studies show that 33 percent more manufacturing jobs are created when domestic content is maximized.  The manufacturing sector has been disproportionately slammed by this recession, with over 2 million jobs lost since December 2007.  More broadly, over 5 million manufacturing jobs and 51,000 factories have been lost in the last decade.  It is important that we preserve longstanding policies that create jobs here in America.”

AAM recently published Buy America Works, a comprehensive report on American manufacturing and the success of domestic sourcing policies.  The report details additional Buy America success stories, including the Portland, OR, streetcar system that is using streetcars like those that will be used in Tucson.  Read the full Buy America Works report.

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