Reshoring

    GOP Debate: No Mention of Manufacturing

    american-flag-image-wallpaper copyA short post to make an observation.

    Say what you will about the GOP debate last night — and there is much to say — there was no attention paid to manufacturing. Search the transcript, you’ll not find the word mentioned a single time. Wow, it’s a very big point to miss. In related topics innovation was mentioned once, and infrastructure, a huge problem, was not mentioned at all.

    Why is it important and a big missing that manufacturing wasn’t mentioned?

    Manufacturing, and the middle class jobs that accompany renewed manufacturing, are absolutely essential to sustained, healthy economic growth. Our growth right now is anaemic in large part because of this missing element.

    We are not going to be a nation with a middle class if we don’t make things, ideally, high value things. 

    Many important things were brought up, if not exactly debated. Education, taxation, immigration, abortion, balancing budgets, ISIS, Hilary Clinton, regulations, entitlement reform, gay marriage, and more. They even talked about jobs, small business, and the economy — but it was mostly about how lowering taxes and removing regulations will get us to growth.

    Sorry guys, tweaking the tax code, alone, does not get us to growth, and will not get us to 4% or better growth rates. 

    Lowering taxes, reforming regulations and entitlements might help — would help — but it will not do the job.

    What Would Do the Job — Three Things

    1. What would do the job are investments in basic science and materials — which has always given us a dividend in technology and jobs. The USA used to lead the world in basic research, we no longer do. If we want to be the first to create new innovations and industries, we need to be the first to understand new materials and aspects of science. Investment in infrastructure would also be a huge help. Many American’s don’t even has access to the web. Let’s fix this by making smart investments.
    2. What would do the job is to set penalties for American companies who ship jobs overseas. Manufacturers are taking advantage of cheap labor overseas and south of our border. Instead they should be automating here, and staying here. The world is changing and some jobs are going to disappear, that’s reality. However, many companies move when they could be reinventing here. Let’s incent them to stay and penalize them if they leave. Let’s reinvent how to manufacture and we’ll recapture jobs and reshore jobs.
    3. What would do the job is to provide more help to entrepreneurs, help in the form of insurance (Obamacare needs tweaked to better support entrepreneurs) and help in the form of support services and tax incentives. The truth is the rate of start-ups has slowed in recent years. This is another missing element in the recovery. We have to turn that around. Schools need to educate more entrepreneurs, we are very poor at doing that. Big business and government have to support smaller players and enable more people to take more risk. Intrapreneurship should also be encouraged. Let’s encourage and support a massive new generation of entrepreneurs.

    The lack of attention to creating Good Middle Class jobs, not McJobs, via manufacturing, is the elephant in the room that was not talked about.

    Can we suggest to Fox News and others hosting debates over the next 12 months that we want that elephant talked about?

     

     

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    Baby Steps To Breakthrough In Regional Economic Development

    Creativity, Innovation, and Economic Development — Embracing the Challenge Better Questions Means Better Answers for Regional Economic Development It’s about Attitudes, Projects, and Baby Steps Economic Development is important and challenging work. Having just interviewed players in this field and surveyed some regional initiatives — it’s clear that innovative work is being done in regional economic development — by some. I suspect that many in the field find the economic development challenge overwhelming. A bit like the Bob character in What about Bob, it’s tough to be creative when you are afraid to take a simple step. Thank you Bill Murray for a memorable character. Let’s face it, some regions always seem to lose out on the new plant. Some

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    Rural Broadband Necessary for Rural Innovation

    Tuesday– September 23, 2014 It’s nice to see that people are recognizing that innovation isn’t always in Silicon Valley. Writing you today from the countryside in Three Oaks, Michigan, aka “Michiana” — where my poky web access is satellite based. Steve Case’s article earlier this week in the Washington Post  – Why innovation and start-ups are thriving in ‘flyover’ country –  is spot on. Case, you may recall, was co-founder of AOL. He correctly identifies the reasons why Chicago, Denver, Cincinnati, and other smaller cities are becoming vibrant centers of start-ups. He’s asking for investments of time and money to be made in order to further the trend. I agree, and… He didn’t go far enough with his article — he missed one

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    Support RAMI

    We Can’t Get Serious About Manufacturing Soon Enough. I support RAMI. I read with interest a post on the congressional blog The Hill. In a rare example of cross party cooperation it would appear that the Senate is taking action on supporting growth in our manufacturing sector. Do read the piece but in essence the idea is to set up a national network for manufacturing innovation. This would build on the pilot center/hubs for innovation already set up by the Obama administration. Kudos to Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Roy Blunt (R-Missouri). I like your style gentlemen — first for working in a true bipartisan manner, and secondly for doing it on something so important. The bill is called Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act (RAMI). Congressman Tom Reed (R-New York) and

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    A New Idea for Black Friday

    The concept of Black Friday has me thinking about what we reward as consumers. My idea of shopping has nothing to do with sharp elbows, crowds, or even bargains. The kind of shopping I like is when I find something truly unique, really special and creative or innovative, at a small shop or family business. Best for me if it’s made in America, and of high quality craftsmanship, to me, this is real value — and I’ll buy that, I’ll reward that. That kind of shopping is increasingly hard to do. As I watched CNN this morning I was a bit amazed by all the “news” around the concept of Black Friday. Man-on-the-spot interviews at shopping malls, traffic reports from WalMart,

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    The Innovation State of the Union

    President Obama made mention in his state of the union address that he wishes to expand the National Netowrk for Manufacturing Innovation concept. I wholly applaud the idea, AND, there might be a more fundamental challenge that needs addressed first. I’ve made the acquaintance of a thought leader with her finger on the pulse of where the nation sits in terms of technological readiness to innovate. Her name is Pamela Menges, and she’s President of a high-tech start up in Cincinnati. She’s also a professor at the University of Cincinnati in their Engineering department. Steve Jobs once challenged Obama to find him 30,000 engineers so he could build a plant in California. That challenge remains a big one, and again,

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    Detroit Soup — Serving Hope & Innovation

    As a Michigander I’m always looking for some good vibes on the economy. I found it last night on NBC Nightly News, an inspirational story about Detroit Soup.  It’s not a restaurant, but it does serve soup — and something a lot more precious for down-on-its-luck-Motown — hope. Here’s the concept: Detroit Soup is a monthly dinner to fund creative and entrepreneurial projects. Micro grants are awarded at the dinner. Five dollars ($5.00) is the entry fee and it gets you a simple meal — soup, salad, bread — and a vote. They hold the dinner in an old warehouse. Click over to their site and read their backstory, it’s interesting. Apparently this concept has been happening for over three years.

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    Reshoring – Why It Makes Sense

    It’s a shame that the reshoring trend (of manufacturing back to the USA) will take years to be realized. I’m a fan of course, I’ve written about it here before. Like many trends, it’s emerging in dribs and drabs; and some dispute it’s even really happening. I know from personal experience how difficult it is to raise funds for new manufacturing ventures in the USA. It’s a sad truth today that VC’s are more interested in funding the next iPhone app than a start-up that actually makes something. It’s also not good that the most likely candidates for reshoring — high tech equipment intensive/low labour requirement operations — are very expensive to set up. The business case can be hard

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    How Reshoring Happens

    Briefly noted: The New York Times ran an article this morning about how Starbucks is moving manufacture of pottery mugs to a small shop in East Liverpool, Ohio. This is notable because it’s another example of “reshoring” — that is, bringing manufacturing from China and other cheap (aka slave) labor markets back to the USA. This is how restoring the economy happens, one job at a time. Kudos to Starbucks for being a good corporate citizen, and doing something that is just plain smart as well. Sales from the mugs will help support Starbuck’s Create Jobs for USA Fund. I’ve blogged about both reshoring and the Create Jobs for USA program here before — nice to see it’s an active

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