Steve Hedrick, MATRIC CEOMATRIC President & CEO, Steve Hedrick, delivered remarks at the West Virginia Manufacturers Association’s Manufacturing Leadership Summit on June 9, 2014, in Daniels, W.Va. More than 400 people attended the summit, which is designed to inform the public about important events and issues that manufacturers face.

Below are excerpts from Mr. Hedrick’s speech, which primarily focused on education, U.S. energy policy, and preparation and predictability.

Energy Policy:

Our legislators need to focus on delivering an effective energy policy. It should be their number one priority. And it doesn’t matter really whether we’re talking federal or state energy policy. Because we want a policy in place so that rules can be established, understood and embraced. We have to know where we’re headed; we have to have predictability. Right now, doubt exists because no one knows exactly which direction our policies are going. And until companies know that the future of energy in America is bright, they’ll continue to debate…internally or externally… whether or not they want to operate here.

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Finding Solutions:

We need to use these types of forums as workshops to find solutions and answers, not as microphones to complain. Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of e-commerce giant Amazon.com, once said, “What we need to do is always lean into the future, when the world changes around you, and when it changes against you…, used to be a tail wind is now a head wind. You have to lean into that and figure out what to do, because complaining isn’t a strategy.” I couldn’t agree with him more. Amazon is constantly looking for ways to improve, to make the consumer-experience better, faster. And we all need to think this way for our own businesses and for our state and our Nation. We […] need to stop complaining and start finding new and better ways to do things.

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STEM Education (Science, Education, Engineering, Mathematics):

We’re talking about a STEM-literate citizenry. Lawmakers who have a sound understanding of science. Voters who can vote for the right candidates. Teachers who teach science in a way that keeps young students interested. Journalists who understand STEM and can accurately report on STEM-related issues. Because without a STEM-literate workforce, we won’t fully leverage the U.S. manufacturing renaissance that we have before us.

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Future:

We must prepare for the future, by taking the right actions today. This means talking to our legislators today about our future needs. We must call them. We must write them, and we must visit with them to talk about tomorrow and the next day and the next day. We must stop talking about mistakes or about what we wish someone could have done differently in the past, and we must focus on what we want, what we need, and work with them to create predictability in our future. Secondly, and arguably more importantly, we must take action today by educating our kids now. We must prepare them for the future.

If we don’t focus on our children’s education, and if we don’t talk to our legislators to find solutions, if we don’t take action now, if we don’t do what’s right, and do it now, we won’t be prepared for the future.

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