Manufacturing is booming in Newark and other American cities after decades of decline. Newark has over 400 active factories that employ over 10,000 people. Cities like Newark are reaping the benefits because there is already an infrastructure in place from the 70s. With concentrated labor, the center of transit hubs, and proximity to ⅓ of the population, the City is a great place to manufacture goods.
American Manufacturing Is More Competitive
After 20 years, Maker’s Row preferred manufacturing partner Unionwear is finally competitive with imports again. Unionwear sold primarily to entities like the government and military because they required that products be “Made in the USA” and, at the time, there were really no other markets willing to pay a huge premium for goods.
The price of imported textiles has been growing at 25% per year for the last four years while the prices for domestic goods have remained flat. As the premium paid for Made in USA shrinks, more markets implement and enforce labor and sourcing standards, and the benefits of Made in USA increase in value. A lot more people will buy Made in USA when it is 25% more expensive than when it was 200% more expensive.
The 7 Reasons Why People Buy Made in USA:
- Support American economy
- Fair Labor & Product Quality Standards
- Economics—small batch manufacturing
- Buy Union
- Buy Eco Friendly— consumers don’t want to be part of the problem
American Manufacturing Takes Cues from the Food Movement
Manufacturers have learned to localize supply chains from the food movement. The underlying motivations are different and more related to worker rights. The closer production is to consumption, the less acceptable worker exploitation becomes and the more likely goods are produced using labor and environmental standards that the consumer benefits from.
The international worker rights movement is an issue in manufacturing; Bangladeshi factory collapses, inadequate minimum wages, and deep-seated inequalities. Consumers want to know that they are not contributing to the problem–that the products they buy are made at factories that comply with America’s core labor standards. This is important for domestic manufacturing because what actually causes buyers to connect with “USA Made” are deep convictions about issues that support of domestic manufacturing can cure.
Along with localism and worker rights, environmentalism and the maker movement are also affecting the American manufacturing landscape. All four of these factors are much deeper convictions than patriotism. That sentiment is rooted in business-to-business markets since companies are sensitive to being judged on their commitment to everything, from helping rebuild our economy to the working conditions at their vendors’ factories. Putting a Made in USA label on your product enables a small business to co-brand with the most powerful ‘brand’ in the world—America!
The most exciting aspect of American manufacturing right now is the confluence of pricing being competitive, deep seated convictions driving sales, and cloud computing and ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) making small batch manufacturing a reality.
A special thanks to Unionwear’s Mitch Cahn. This post was inspired by Cahn’s TED talk and various other discussions on American manufacturing trends.