SKOWHEGAN – New Balance shoe factories in Maine are expected to see a dramatic increase in orders next year thanks to a change in the buying practices of the Department of Defense.
In 1941, congress passed the Berry Amendment. That law required the military to provide American-made equipment and uniforms to its people, to the extent possible. For some reason, the Defense Department failed to purchase American athletic footwear. Now, a recently approved provision mandates the military purchase American-made sneakers for its recruits.
Representative Bruce Poliquin, (R), said “Common sense dictates that we use U.S. Taxpayer dollars to buy U.S. Athletic shoes made right here in the United States.”
New Balance employs 900 people at its three factories in Maine.
Senator Angus King, (I), added “It made our job much easier that people knew new balance and knew the quality.”
It’s taken nearly ten years for Maine’s various congressional members to bring this to reality.
New Balance employee Eric Boynton said “it means a lot to us. It’ll keep us going. It’s a made in the U.S.A. product we really should have for the military. Made in the U.S.A. means a lot to me.”
The three members of Maine’s congressional delegation attending Wednesday morning’s news conference all wore their New Balance sneakers.
Senator Susan Collin, (R), added “I was at a loss as to what to buy him for a present. Finally, it occurred to me, that I would get him a custom designed pair of New Balance sneakers.”
Once the president signs this bill into law, and negotiations begin with the Defense Department, it could mean as many as 200,000 additional pairs of sneakers a year for New Balance manufacturing. That could mean more jobs at their three plants in Maine.