MINNEAPOLIS -- Even with political problems, tariff questions and international unrest, Career Technical Education remains the number one issue.

That was the feeling during the recent meeting held by the Wood Machinery Manufacturers of America in Minneapolis.

Members of WMMA’s public policy committee discussed current issues and plans for 2019, including the next Washington fly-in planned for February 19-21, 2019.

Finding skilled labor remains a major issue for WMMA’s member companies as it does for wood products companies. The overall economy and shortage of all kinds of workers is adding to the difficulty in getting technical and skilled workers, which has been in place for a number of years.

Tariffs are in the news and continue to be an uncertainty for WMMA member companies, as they are for most stateside companies. Many WMMA companies import materials or components to manufacture their machines in the United States.

One such company is Timesavers, a longtime manufacturer of widebelt sanders. Attendees at the meeting toured the Timesavers factory, the Mereen Johnson offices and engineering center, and the 3M Innovation Center and Cam Center, all in the Twin Cities area.

WMMA continues to support a fully functioning Export-Import Bank. Several companies also mentioned that explaining the tax cuts to customers continued to be something they were spending time on. The meeting also included a discussion of the best countries to export to, and how to improve the customer experience.

WMMA has supported reauthorization of the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act to strengthen competitiveness and create well-paying jobs, but it was pointed out at the meeting that even the successful reauthorization was only for a small fraction of overall education spending.

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