Department of Defense to Procure “Made in America” Running Shoes
The Berry Amendment, a 1940’s era law, mandates that the military purchase supplies from domestic factories whenever possible. Regrettably, it was impossible to purchase American made footwear that met Department of Defense (DoD) standards since there were few companies left in the United States that manufactured its footwear domestically. Fortunately, thanks to New England Council member New Balance, this is about to change.
As soon as early 2015, New Balance will be selling Berry-compliant shoes to the U.S. military that are 100% domestically made. In order to make their products truly Made in America, New Balance invested in an injection-molding machine for its Brighton plant that allowed them to manufacture midsoles domestically instead of overseas. Like running a marathon, New Balance had to face its own endurance test over the years by continuing to make capital intensive investments and advocating for military footwear to be made in America until the DoD amended its procurement policy. New Balance’s efforts were aided by Representatives Niki Tsongas (D-MA) and Mike Michaud (D-ME) who spearheaded the effort to compel the DoD to honor the Berry Amendment.
Matt LeBretton, New Balance’s vice president of public affairs and New England Council Board member, estimates that “the military voucher system in place now for running shoes costs about $15 million a year. He says if all of that work went to one company like, say, New Balance, that would equal at least 200 new jobs, to make nearly 250,000 pairs a year.”
This victory for New Balance is also a victory for the New England region. New Balance employs hundreds of New Englanders and the company’s supply chain includes many companies throughout the region. Subsequently, as a result of this policy change , New Balance’s growth will have ripple effects throughout the regional economy. The New England Council congratulates New Balance and commends them for acting to increase manufacturing and economic growth within the New England region.