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County Council considers Made in the USA resolution

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By Chris Sardelli

Lancaster County Council is considering a resolution that would place an emphasis on buying American-made goods.

But some council members admit it may be a tough guideline to follow.

Council Chairman Fred Thomas introduced the idea at Monday’s meeting. The idea for the resolution developed from a request by the Alliance for American Manufacturing.

The proposed resolution, called the 2009 Resolution on the Spending of Federal Economic Renewal Grants, lists several ways the county can help turn the economy around.

The resolution would commit the county to buying only products and services made or performed in the United States. It would also ask council to spend economic-recovery funds on products and services that create jobs and keep Americans employed.

“Some counties and unions are behind this idea because they think stimulus money should be first used on companies in America before going overseas,” Thomas said.

But Councilman Cotton Cole said the resolution would be difficult to enforce.

“There’s no way in the world you can do that,” Cole said. “It’s almost impossible to buy everything from the U.S. because companies have outsourced to everywhere in the world.”

Cole said the only way to fix the ailing economy is to find a way to bring companies back to the United States.

“I would love to say all we’re going to buy is stuff that says ‘Made in the USA,’ but there’s no way in the world you can do that,” Cole said.

Councilman Jack Estridge asked if there was a list of items that could be bought in America, while County Administrator Steve Willis said the resolution wouldn’t apply to such things as medical devices that aren’t even made in America.

Thomas said the resolution would probably be “more feel good than substantive.”

“This is a resolution, not a law,” Thomas said. “We’ll attempt to do what we always try to do. I’m not sure it takes us far off base from where we’ve been all along.”

Councilman Larry Honeycutt suggested the resolution be amended to say the county should buy American products “when practical.”

He used the example of going to a store and seeing two products – an American product for $10, and one made in China that only costs $6.

In that instance, it wouldn’t be practical to buy the more expensive item, Honeycutt said.

Honeycutt made a motion to move this to an action item. Councilman Rudy Carter seconded the motion, but said he did that just to “get it out in the open and discuss it.”

“I don’t know how many items I have that are made in the USA. Most are from Taiwan or China,” Carter said.

Council voted 5-2 in favor of moving the issue to an action item.

Council members Estridge and Larry McCullough dissented. The resolution will be discussed again at council’s May 18 meeting.

Contact reporter Chris Sardelli at csardelli@thelancasternews.com or at (803) 416-8416