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April 2023 Chair's Letter

April 2023 Chair's Letter

“I come from down in the valley where, mister, when you're young they bring you up to do like your daddy done…And for my nineteenth birthday I got a union card and a wedding coat…I got a job working construction for the Johnstown Company, but lately there ain't been much work on account of the economy, now all them things that seemed so important well, mister, they vanished right into the air now I just act like I don't remember and Mary acts like she don't care…”

Bruce Springsteen, The River

In the title track to his fifth studio album “the boss”, in a way only he can do, paints a picture filled with so much Americana and nostalgia that you feel like you are living the life he’s crooning about. The protagonist in this track tells the story of having to grow up fast in his blue-collar American country and having trouble finding work to support his family due to jobs. Being the FTZ nerd I am, I have hard time listening to this song and not find parallels in the space we are today and all we do to promote good American jobs. Bruce, in his Broadway hit show, sings of being the voice of the blue-collar worker, “I’ve never held an honest job in my entire life! I’ve never done any hard labor. I’ve never worked 9 to 5. I’ve never worked five days a week. Until right now.” His lyrics speak to a message of hard work and the plight of workers looking to succeed, and even survive. In this same way, our message, and the program we work so hard to push, must speak to and raise awareness to aid the working class.

In our ongoing meetings with the advocacy committee, we are working hard to prioritize some of the items this group, and our association, need to address. Almost all of our discussions revert back to the topic of getting our message out to our communities and elected officials, and that this program is truly a job program and enhancer.

There has never been a more important time for us to showcase this message of job enhancement, and be the first to do so. Like Bruce, regardless of our background, we are the voice of this program. If we lack in telling the communities and leadership the true strengths of this FTZ program, we run the grave risk that others will, and when they do, they may not share with the best intentions.

Due to the importance of this issue, we have split the responsibilities of Marketing and Legislative Advocacy into separate groups to help lead this directive. It is time to change the culture of NAFTZ in this area. We can no longer sit back and hope our message finds reach by attending a few events, forwarding a handful of chain letters or emails, or talking about job creation at Spring and Annual conferences to our friends.  We are asking you to take a step out, or in actuality, take many large steps out.

Years ago, Rebecca Williams, in her Chairmanship role, led us to create an economic impact study. Now I charge us to step out and prove what that study showed us was true. I urge us to step away from our comfort community and spread our wings to those who can’t even spell FTZ.  We, like “the boss”, must step into our role and be the voice of a new FTZ generation; one that knows and appreciates the impact this strong, but niche, program can do.

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