Vice Chairman of Federal Reserve Comes to Rockford

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The Federal Reserve's second in command was in Rockford Thursday to meet with leaders from the struggling manufacturing sector

Vice chairman Roger Ferguson spent the morning discussing the challenges facing area manufacturers. There was no promise of change, but Rock River Valley business owners think they got their message across.

In recent months Dial Machine Company's workforce has plunged from 65 to less than 30. Owner Malcolm Anderberg says the situation is dire.

"We're not longer competing even with the latest technology with off shore competitors even so we're going to go by the wayside if it continues on this path,” says Anderberg.

Anderberg's concerns were echoed by about a dozen leaders from area die cut and tool manufacturers at a meeting with the vice chairman of the Federal Reserve. They say they can't get compete with cheap labor, new steel tariffs and unfair regulations.

Vice chairman Ferguson toured Dial Manufacturing to get a hands on look at what's happening in the industry.

"I would say in many ways what I’ve seen validates what I’ve seen in economic literature in general. So it's not so much that it's a new or different message,” says Ferguson.

But everyone at Thursday’s meeting agrees that it's a message worth reinforcing.

"Something has to be done to turn around and try to preserve a manufacturing base here in America, says Rep. Don Manzullo.

Manzullo invited vice chairman Ferguson to Rockford, and has been actively urging Federal Reserve officials not to raise interest rates, because he says the manufacturing industry is still locked in a recession.

According to economic reports, the Rock River Valley has lost about 4,600 jobs in recent months, jobs that pay an average of $30,000.