5 Myths—and the Inspiring Truth—of American Manufacturing | So Good News


The following is an essay by David Ebenstein and Asutosh Padhi, authors of THE TITANIUM ECONOMY: Industrial technology is better; Here’s how to create a faster, stronger America.

The words “American Made” may conjure up a landscape of abandoned mills and dilapidated factories. But that was the image of the last century. Today, Thousands of advanced industrial technology companies are humming across the United States. These members of the “Titanium Economy” are safe, Creating essential products for spotless workplaces; Not extraordinary financial returns.

The titanium economy is important. These companies do not require college degrees; It offers millions of well-paying jobs. Companies are pillars of their communities. And they make the US more competitive and economically resilient in a volatile global market.

But understanding the value and promise of the titanium economy requires overcoming many of the myths still associated with American manufacturing.

Here are five of them.

Myth #1: Manufacturing is dying.

U.S. manufacturing is strong by many measures: In 22 categories of manufacturing defined by the United Nations, the country ranks first or second in 19 countries. Manufacturing employment rose, increasing from 11.6 million in January 2011 to 12.5 million in October 2021. manufacturing, 460 US counties provide at least 20 percent of jobs, most of them from rural and suburban areas, and they are critical in creating broad-based prosperity.

Take Simpsonville, South Carolina, an industrial technology hub known as the “Golden Strip.” It’s just one powerful example of how manufacturing can breathe life into once-struggling regions.

Simpsonville’s transformation began when Michelin opened its North American headquarters in the mid-1980s, shortly after all local textile industries closed. Bridgestone and BMW followed, impressed by the business-friendly climate and the large number of skilled and hard-working people who lived there. Other new factories soon followed, producing not only high-end tires and cars, but also wide-body aircraft, They also push out medical equipment and advanced equipment. The median annual household income in Simpsonville is now $75,000—25 percent higher than the state average. Public schools are above average; The standard of living is good and a wide range of jobs are available.

Myth 2: It’s dirty and boring.

Walk into an American factory today; You’re likely to find a quietly glowing bastion of efficiency and innovation. Employees enjoy superior working conditions, from the factory floor to the design and engineering studios. Every day, industrial technology companies bring smart technologies to their production processes and their products.

Brady Corporation, for example, manufactures industrial labels; A leading supplier of safety equipment and printing systems. Wisconsin At the company’s sleek, high-tech facility in Eau Claire; It can create advanced software interfaces for users that control quality and elevate the user experience to a new level.

Myth 3: It’s not profitable.

In researching the titanium economy; About 4,500 of those companies are keeping pace with — and in some cases outperforming — the private and 700 public companies that Silicon Valley tech giants now see as the equivalent of many people’s model business performance. Titanium Economy’s members represent 380 of the top 1,000 private companies ranked by revenue by sector. In general, Their earnings grew 4.2 percent a year from 2013 to 2018—1.3 percent faster than the S&P 500.

HEICO, an aerospace defense and electronics company based in Florida, is a prime example. The company has increased total shareholder return by 47,500 percent since 1990. In the past decade alone, Its stock has risen 1,270 percent, compared with the S&P 500’s 250 percent. There are gains in the industrial technology sector.

Myth #4: The future is all about services and technology.

Services and technology are not a both/or proposition; But so are those companies Do things.. Manufacturers and suppliers that accelerate technology and digital innovation could create $3.7 trillion in value by 2025.

Epidemics and geopolitical tensions are a reminder of the value of domestic manufacturing. As a result, many companies are building more resilient supply chains. The country is on track to grow from 220,000 in 2021 to 350,000 in 2021 and 160,000 in 2020.

Myth 5: Automation is the death of manufacturing jobs.

According to estimates, the skills gap in the U.S. could increase to more than six million workers by 2030, costing the nation an estimated $1.7 trillion in GDP. The industrial sector is not immune to this trend. In the last decade, about 2.4 million jobs have gone unfilled in the industry alone. Now the number is about half a million. That’s lost economic output—opportunities that can make the country sick.

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To help workers adapt to technological change, automation will not kill manufacturing jobs as much as it will on industrial companies and the communities in which they operate. Graco, a Minneapolis-based liquid handling manufacturer, is showing the way. Because the company needs technically skilled people, it has built relationships with local trade schools and offered scholarships, Capital equipment and apprenticeships are offered. These kinds of investments provide healthy returns—and will be needed to fulfill the promise of U.S. manufacturing.

Manufacturing is key to a healthy and diverse economy that serves all Americans. Companies in the sector are consistently undervalued—less than one percent of venture capital is invested in industrial technology—and government support is limited; It is limited, especially compared to what some other countries offer.

Promoting the titanium economy should be a national priority with a clear strategy. For example, bringing more women into the trade; expanding vocational and trade school programs; The productive talent pool must be broadened and deepened by offering apprenticeships and alternative credentials.

Most importantly, We must debunk myths and change mindsets to inspire the next generation to pursue careers in manufacturing. I’ve seen the benefits of the titanium economy in communities across the country. With a lively downtown and proud citizens, it’s clear what a great place to live.

That’s inspiring, and it’s built on the promise and reality of American manufacturing.


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