Two recent related reports provide evidence that manufacturing in the U.S. is silently growing. As stated in a blog from a contributor to the Harvard Business Review the “Institute for Supply Management” (ISM) recently reported that U.S. manufacturing had expanded consecutive for 24 months. Likewise, the Federal Reserve reported a 0.6% increase in manufacturing in July 2011, with a year-on-year gain of 3.8%.”
A more detailed account of this growth is offered by the Boston Consulting Group, which offers additional evidence that as costs rise abroad and shipping becomes more expensive that manufacturers are seeking to reduce risk to their supply chain by serving markets (both in China and in the U.S.), through “on-shore” manufacturing. The recent announcement from the Oldenburg Group is a real example of a Chinese firm “on-shoring”.
Until the recent announcement by Oldenburg Group, why has this movement not gained more attention? First, while this is a good trend for the United States, it will not make a significant dent in our national short-term job numbers. Manufacturing companies are incredibly efficient and productive, and are able to manufacture more and more with less and less people. We see evidence of this with the manufacturing companies we work with each day within Oneida County and those considering new operations.
Second, even if the jobs created in the manufacturing sector continue to grow, it will take years for us to point to the evidence of this in our local communities. By its nature, manufacturing investments take time and effort to establish and build its operations, install equipment, etc. It doesn’t just happen in 30 -90 days. Finally, manufacturing is typically done in communities far from the mainstream media’s eye. Do you think the great news for the Oldenburg Group made a big wave with national media? It certainly should have. It’s extremely important to the Oldenburg Group, its employees and to the communities that they provide jobs in.
Despite its lack of general attention, this sector of the economy is of critical importance to the Oneida County economy both for the innovative capacity it instills in our communities and workforce, and for the capital investment it makes to our communities. In Oneida County we have work to do to prepare our communities for such investment, preparing 21st century industrial parks and developing skilled workers able to perform in an advanced, modern manufacturing environment. We also need to give the industry and those that work within it the respect they deserve and remove obstacles to their growth.