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US manufacturing proponent New Balance made headlines this week as the US Department of Defense announced a policy change that links back to the company's New England production capabilities. Last week, the DOD mandated that "stipends provided by military branches for their recruits to buy new athletic shoes be used for wholly American-made styles, where they exist," as reported by WWD—a move that New Balance and Michigan-based Wolverine World Wide Inc. have lobbied toward.
The policy benefits New Balance facilities and suppliers in Maine, Massachusetts, and elsewhere in New England. Boston Business Journal notes that in 2012, the company purchased a machine to manufacture midsoles domestically, including those required by the shoe style planned for military use. Matt LeBretton, VP of public affairs for New Balance, tells WWD that they have been testing a version of the 950 intended for running and training and will begin wear-testing for the military shortly, hoping to make it available by the first or second quarter of next year.
· New Balance to Equip Military Recruits With US-Made Sneakers [New Balance]
· A fully US-made shoe will soon be mass produced in New England [BBJ]
· US Firms Hail Defense Policy Change [WWD]