Massachusetts has an opportunity to ensure local companies and workers will see the benefits of taxpayer spending on construction projects.
Stephen Capone’s company, Capone Iron Corporation, makes a range of fabricated steel products. Things like beams, columns and trusses to anchor bolts and leveling plates. You know, the type of stuff that goes into new buildings, bridges and other infrastructure.
But Capone stopped bidding on taxpayer-funded projects like these years ago.
Unfair trade practices by many foreign countries have created an unlevel playing field for American companies and workers. These foreign governments use unfair trade practices like massive subsidies, state-owned enterprises and currency manipulation to boost their own companies, who then bid on U.S. taxpayer-funded contracts far below fair market value.
Companies like Capone’s operate in the free market, abide by strict labor and environmental guidelines and pay their employees a fair wage. They stand ready and able to compete against anyone in the world, but right now the game is rigged against them. So they don’t play.
A new bill in Massachusetts aims to change that.
Introduced by state Sen. Joan Lovely, Senate Docket No. S2546 would require schools and other taxpayer-funded projects exceeding $500,000 to be built with U.S.-made steel and other domestic materials. Lovely recently told The Eagle-Tribune that the bill not only will help Massachusetts manufacturers, it will reinvest tax dollars back into the community.
“[E]very time time a contract goes to Canada, nobody is spending money here,” she said. “Their workers are pouring that money back into their economy, and we’re on the losing side.”
Capone is supportive of Lovely’s bill, and on Wednesday he wrote to Alliance for American Manufacturing supporters in Massachusetts asking for their support, too. You can read his entire email below — and if you live in Massachusetts, be sure to take action, too.
I want to tell you about my dad, Charlie Capone, better known to many as “Papa Charlie.”
Back in the 1950s, he started hand fabricating ornamental iron products at night and on weekends from the basement and backyard of his home in Winthrop, Massachusetts. In the 1960s, as business progressed, he moved his operations into a small garage in nearby Everett, Massachusetts.
By the time my brother Gary and I joined him in the family business, he was overseeing Capone Iron Works, fabricating structural steel for schools, government buildings, hospitals, and more.
Today, Capone Iron Corporation is still family-owned and operated, and we can proudly say our steel products are still Made in Massachusetts! Between our plant in Rowley and our second facility in Berlin, N.H., Capone Iron Corporation proudly employs over 90 people, right here in New England.
But Capone Iron Corporation, along with our fellow New England-based steel fabricators, is under threat! Massachusetts tax dollars are going to foreign steel fabrication companies instead of local companies like ours. These foreign companies are often financially subsidized by their governments or enjoy favorable dollar exchanges with the United States, enabling them to repeatedly undercut American fabricators in the bidding process. That means our state’s tax money is leaving our country instead of being reinvested in our local workers, companies and communities.
New legislation aims to change that. Senate Docket No. S2546 is an act to promote American manufacturing, and it would require schools and all other taxpayer-funded projects exceeding $500,000 to be built with U.S. steel and other domestic materials.
This bill makes financial sense. Every $1 spent on domestic fabricated steel generates about a minimum of $1.50 in economic activity, according to Steel Fabricators of New England economist Dr. Robert Cuomo.
And at least 38 states already have laws on the books that give preference to American workers and companies when taxpayer money is spent. Now it’s time for Massachusetts to join them.
My dad Charlie truly lived the American dream. He grew up in poverty, having spent his early years in an orphanage after his mother died. He proudly served his country during World War II, returning home to work in the Quincy shipyard and then Builder’s Iron Works in Somerville. He got married, raised five children, and turned his part-time job into a full scale steel fabrication company by the 1970s. Ever since, that company has created good-paying jobs for generations of New Englanders.
I’m proud to keep his legacy going today. That’s why I am passionately working to keep Massachusetts tax dollars from repeatedly leaving our country. We are ready and able to do this work for our community – and we’re ready to do it well and at a fair price.
Stephen J. Capone
Capone Iron Corporation