October 30, 2018
Norridgewock, ME – Today, U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King and Representative Bruce Poliquin visited the New Balance plant in Norridgewock in celebration of New Balance’s new contract with the U.S. military to produce athletic footwear for our military recruits domestically. The Senators and Representative toured the production line and delivered remarks congratulating New Balance employees and leadership.
Senators Collins and King and Representative Poliquin played a pivotal role in making the contract possible by securing language in the Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) requiring the Pentagon to consider athletic footwear subject to the Berry Amendment, which states that the U.S. military must purchase 100% American-made gear when possible.
“The men and women of America’s armed forces exemplify the best of our nation’s values, and the men and women of New Balance exemplify the best of our nation’s manufacturing heritage,” said Senator Collins. “I am so proud of the hardworking New Balance employees in Skowhegan, Norway, and Norridgewock who have kept the ‘Made in America’ label alive and well in the footwear industry and have proven that there is no challenge that American workers cannot meet.”
“This is a win-win that is long overdue, and frankly, it just makes sense,” said Senator King. “Hundreds of Maine people work hard to make New Balance athletic footwear right here in Norridgewock. And now that the Berry Amendment applies to athletic footwear, Maine-made footwear will, quite literally, continue to support our military, and American military recruits. Today, as we celebrate this legislative achievement, we should really thank the men and women who make these high-quality footwear. They are the heart and soul of New Balance and they’re what make Maine such a special place to live.”
“This is a great day for Maine jobs,” said Congressman Poliquin. “Thanks to the hard work and dedication of these 900 Mainers in Norridgewock, Skowhegan, and Norway, our troops are now provided with 100% American-made athletic shoes. After fighting tooth and nail, and standing up to leadership in my own party and the Pentagon for these Maine jobs, we have great news to deliver to the people of Maine today.”
“Today we are proud to celebrate New Balance’s long-standing commitment to domestic manufacturing through our first delivery of Berry Amendment Compliant, 100% American Made 950v2 athletic shoes to the U.S. Department of Defense,” said Dave Wheeler, Executive Vice President of Global Value Chain, New Balance. “The 950v2 is made in Norridgewock, Maine, using midsoles produced in our Boston manufacturing facility and materials from more than 15 U.S. suppliers. We thank Senator Susan Collins, Senator Angus King and Congressman Bruce Poliquin who all worked tirelessly on Capitol Hill to enact legislation that supports the preservation and growth of U.S. footwear manufacturing jobs and ensured that our talented associates in Maine would have the opportunity to build quality athletic shoes for our country’s military.”
The provision included in the final FY 2017 NDAA was based on legislation introduced by the Senators and Representative in 2016—Senators Collins and King’s Buy American Act and Representative Poliquin’s Stepping up for American Workers and Troops Act. Senator King, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, fought to successfully add the legislation as an amendment to the Senate version of the NDAA during the Committee’s markup of the bill. Representative Poliquin also fought for its inclusion in the House version of the NDAA and successfully petitioned fellow members in the House, Democrats and Republicans, to vote down an amendment that would have stripped it out.
The contract calls for the production of the 950v2 athletic shoe—100% American-made—for recruits entering basic training. The shoes will be assembled in Norridgewock. The delivery of the first shipment is due to the Department of Defense this month.
New Balance employs about 900 Mainers in its three locations in the state, including more than 350 at its Norridgewock plant.