What’s Next for Domestic Manufacturing?

As U.S. elections neared, discussions heated up, with trade deals and strengthening domestic manufacturing headlining prominent discussions for both Democrats and Republicans. After a contentious battle for president, domestic manufacturing remains at the top of a list of concerns for both parties. While uncertainty remains, U.S. manufacturers can look towards a cautiously bright, if somewhat different, future for 2017. A future that includes an increase in domestic talent to fill new jobs, increased investment with new trade partners, and new products to replace previously off-shored production.

Apprenticeships

The National Institute for Metalworking skills (NIMS) will work with the U.S. Department of Labor to develop new apprenticeship programs to meet the need for domestic manufacturing and fill the forecasted 2 million manufacturing jobs currently projected as vacant in the next decade. The $500,000 initiative will support new and broadening apprenticeship programs across a variety of industries and businesses. This builds on a $175 million public-private partnership grant initiative established 2015 to meet the need for mechatronics, industrial maintenance and engineering positions. (companies interesting in expanding or starting apprenticeship programs with NIMS should visit mfgapprenticeship.com)

Foreign Investment

While textile mills, packaging companies, parts manufacturers, and other American businesses sent jobs overseas, many foreign enterprises are now looking at the U.S. for business opportunities and skilled labor. Samsung plans to expand operations in Austin, adding $1 billion to an already record-breaking $3.5 billion mobile chip manufacturing plant. This builds on an effort to ramp up production and product quality, replacing previously faulty and reputation-damaging smartphones that were recently recalled. Neighboring South Korean and Japanese giants Honda, Hyundai and Kia have already opened plants in Lincoln, AL, Montgomery, AL and West Point, GA, respectively.

New Domestic Business

New tech businesses not traditionally known to the domestic manufacturing market are entering the ring, while traditional U.S. manufactures, like automakers, are changing what they produce. Silicon Valley’s SolarCity Corp. recently opened offices in Pittsburgh, joining two other operations already in Norristown and Lancaster, PA. To support the alternative-energy operation now serving western Pennsylvania, SolarCity Corp. is opening a 1.2 million square-foot solar panel production facility in Buffalo, NY. A redirect in automotive demand also brings hope for recently laid-off workers at GM truck and SUV factories, adding $790 million to a plant building high-efficiency engines in Spring Hill, TN.