The claim “Made in the USA” carries a lot of weight because it refers to quality and local jobs. But it’s also a broad statement. After all, it’s a big country. While U.S. manufacturing is clearly a huge boom to the nation’s economy (especially in recent years), certain regions of the country are clear benefactors of local manufacturing. Here’s a look at the evolving nature of domestic manufacturing relating to different U.S. regions.
What Became of the Traditional Manufacturing Hubs?
Hubs like Toledo, Milwaukee and Cleveland used to rule the manufacturing industry. Some are still around, while others saw a significant decline (think Detroit and the eroding Rust Belt). Established near ports and positioned to serve a densely populated Northeast, the hubs of old eventually became the victims of shifting geography and an increasingly globalized economy. During the last part of the 20th century and the first decade of the 21st, the outsourcing of manufacturing to other countries helped deplete traditional U.S. manufacturing hubs. Since then, however, manufacturing has migrated back to the U.S., although not necessarily in the same fashion, or in the same spots.
How Manufacturing ‘Clusters’ Became the New Norm in America
The trend in recent years focuses on costumer service, instead of opting for bulk and price. Consequently, manufacturing hubs are beginning to break loose – being replaced by manufacturing “clusters” scattered around the country. Driving factors behind this decentralization are from companies relying on local manufacturers. They like products that are tailor-made and prefer to be near the action. This trend has helped take manufacturing business back from our Southeast Asian counterparts — and it’s helping to redraw the manufacturing map here at home.
Where is Manufacturing Now?
In short, it’s everywhere. Getting a foothold in remote locations is much easier today than it was when the norm was to set up shop in pre-existing hubs. In addition to changing customer expectations, changing products have helped to restructure where and to what extent we manufacture goods.
Forbes recently named the top 10 manufacturing “boomtowns” that have surfaced along with the economic recovery. Their list is based on the number of actual manufacturing jobs as of 2013, as well as long-term and short-term growth rates. The top contenders include:
1. Houston, Texas
2. Louisville, Kentucky
3. Seattle, Washington
4. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
5. Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills, Michigan
6. Nashville, Tennessee
7. Virginia Beach, Virginia
8. Detroit, Michigan
9. Fort Worth, Texas
10. Salt Lake City, Utah
With only two traditional Rust Belt hubs on the list, it’s clear that the landscape is changing drastically. Innovation and customer demand will determine where the “Made in the USA” label will make its next mark.