The Associated Press

New Pentagon Policy Seen As Boost To Sneakers

BOSTON — Massachusetts-based New Balance could get a boost worth tens of millions of dollars with a new Pentagon policy providing military recruits with U.S.-made sneakers.

New Balance is one of the few shoe manufacturers that meet all federal requirements, said Matt LeBretton, spokesman for the company that manufactures shoes in Lawrence, Boston and Maine.

Acting Deputy Secretary of Defense Christine Fox announced Friday that the Department of Defense will provide military recruits with American-made footwear, rather than giving stipends to buy shoes.

U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas, a Lowell Democrat, has estimated that the military had spent about $180 million on cash allowances for recruits to buy sneakers since 2002.

U.S. shoe makers and lawmakers from Maine, Massachusetts and Michigan lobbied for the change to preserve some of the country’s few remaining shoe plants. In 2012, Rep. Mike Michaud of Maine provided a pair of monogrammed New Balance sneakers to the president, urging him to require the Defense Department to follow a law requiring military personnel to wear U.S.-made clothing from head to toe.

Correction: In an earlier version of this story, The Associated Press erroneously reported about companies that meet federal requirements for the policy. The article said New Balance was one of the few shoe makers that meet all federal requirements; in fact, the Pentagon says no U.S. shoe manufacturer does. The story also erroneously reported how recruits will obtain the footwear. They will get a stipend for shoes but not be provided them directly.

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