U.S. manufacturers are the standard to follow

December 26, 2012

Manufacturing in the U.S. has always been the gold standard for others to emulate. Even as global competitors made inroads into the production industry, American companies still accounted for nearly 20 percent of the global output, a figure that they still maintain.

The announcement by Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, that the Cupertino-based company would be onshoring one of it's product lines was vindication for what many in the industry already knew and, according to NBC News, the flow of manufacturing work back to the U.S could become a flood. Workers in the Southern U.S. states have seen the continued growth of the industry at first hand, welcoming domestic and international firms to the region as a well-earned reputation for quality management in manufacturing and workforce continue to be prime factors in the production of goods.

Boeing and Starbucks both have manufacturing facilities in South Carolina, while General Electric has built on the success of bringing back water heaters to Kentucky by increasing the numbers of refrigerators that it builds at the aptly-named Appliance Park in Louisville. In Georgia and Tennessee, manufacturing employment rose by 3 percent in October, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while Alabama and Mississippi have both seen rises of over 2 percent in the same period.

"It's a business climate like you won't find anywhere else," said Doug Woodward, an economics professor at the University of South Carolina.

This apparent resurgence in U.S. manufacturing has gained the attention of overseas companies, many of whom have started to realize that "made in America" stands for more than just an iconic tagline. While domestic producers will always be welcome, companies such as BMW, Airbus and Austral, an Australian shipbuilder, have all announced their intention to use American workers and domestic manufacturing best practices.

With the influx of foreign companies into the region, the casual observer could feel that home-grown companies are being overlooked in favor of overseas manufacturers. According to some regional economists, nothing could be further from the truth. In Mobile, Alabama, the decision by Airbus to build a $600 million complex in the town was warmly welcomed by officials, but the principles of lean enterprise are still prevalent.

"Though mega deals like the one with Airbus get the most attention, 94 percent of factories in the tri-county area around Mobile are domestic," said Susan Rak-Blanchard, a spokesperson for the Mobile Chamber of Commerce. "Attracting smaller companies that bring 50 to 150 jobs to the area has been our bread and butter over the years."