Made in America | Don Brunell

In the presidential campaign leading up to the November elections, hopefully we will hear about ways to “Make America Great Again!”

One of the most effective strategies is to entice U.S. companies with foreign factories to relocate back home. Another is to encourage those who remained in America to reinvest here.

Discussions about bolstering domestic production of goods and services did not start this year. They are largely rooted in our nation’s anemic job creation over the last decade.

A “Reshoring Institute” launched in 2014 at the University of San Diego (USD) is providing research and support for companies trying to bring manufacturing and services back to America. It includes site comparisons, taxes and incentives, regulations and permitting, science and math education, and cost comparison for developing, manufacturing and marketing.

The encouraging news is The Boston Consulting Group determined 54% of companies with over $1 billion in revenue are considering bringing at least part of their production back to the United States.

One of the leaders in this effort is Walmart, which launched its “Investing in American Jobs” campaign three years ago.

Walmart is the world’s largest company by revenue, according to Fortune Global 500 list (2014). The company committed to purchasing an additional $250 billion in “products made, sourced or grown in the U.S. by 2023” and aims to create up to 1 million new American jobs.

That’s a big deal considering Walmart has 11,500 stores in 28 countries and 2.2 million employees which can sell our home made items.

Walmart’s research found that “Made in USA” is a powerful magnet in our purchasing decisions – second only to price. The findings only underscore our need to keep production costs on par or below our internationally competition.

There are two things which standout: “85% of moms said it is important for a retailer to sell “Made in the USA” products; and, in general, products across all categories are perceived to have higher quality if U.S. Made.”

Washington is a national leader in on-shore production. Now the key is to keep those companies investing, developing and creating jobs in Washington instead of South Carolina or Shanghai.

Boeing is the global aerospace front-runner. Well over half of airliners flying passengers today were assembled in the Puget Sound region. Microsoft is the international leader in computer operating software and markets its “word products” in languages spoken around the world.

Schweitzer Engineering Labs (SEL), a Pullman-based manufacturer, makes the world’s most advanced electronic devices to prevent widespread electrical black outs. Nelson Irrigation, Walla Walla, thrives in highly competitive worldwide markets for agricultural irrigation sprinkler systems. Both are home grown companies which have invested heavily in Washington.

Foreign corporations spent billions building production facilities in our state largely because of our low cost, reliable electricity. Some of that reliable power comes from nuclear and coal and natural gas fired generation and they need lots of electricity.

In Moses Lake, REC Silicon ASA, a Norwegian company, sited its most advanced complex to produce solar-grade silicon and Germany’s BMW built its carbon-fiber production plant for its new electric cars.

Semiconductors manufacturers, many based in Asia, located plants along our I-5 corridor and spend billions to upgrade production facilities around the world. Semiconductors, the devices which make our computers and everyday products work.

“Making America Great Again” must be more than a political slogan. It has to be a national initiative by all Americans regardless of political party. Much of our success hinges upon keeping our costs of production competitive.

As Walmart research unveiled. “Made in USA” is a strong magnet in our purchase decisions – second only to price.

Don C. Brunell is a business analyst, writer and columnist. He retired as president of the Association of Washington Business, the state’s oldest and largest business organization, and now lives in Vancouver. He can be contacted at theBrunells@msn.com.