Chamber's Chavern: Let's Make Reshoring More Than a Trend

Jul 9, 2013

What do we need to bring more manufacturing back to the United States? The answer lies in the right domestic policies, says the U.S. Chamber Executive Vice President and COO David Chavern.

Lawmakers need to put in place policies that will make America the best place in the world to do business, Chavern writes in a post on GE’s Ideas Lab website. “That means inexpensive and abundant energy sources, commonsense regulations, a bold trade agenda, a competitive tax code, and a healthy, growing economy.”

Chavern also highlights a GE project:

Leading firms in other high-value industries are also taking steps to return manufacturing to the U.S. shores. GE is reviving its Appliance Park manufacturing complex in Kentucky.

In the 60s, the complex employed a peak 23,000 employees, but much of the work eventually wound up overseas thanks in large part to lower labor costs. The number of workers at the complex fell to an all-time low of just over 1,800 in 2011.

But in the past few years, GE arrived at the conclusion that many firms are reaching: today, it makes the most business sense to reshore some operations in the United States. Why? There are several reasons, not the least of which are rising labor costs in China and falling natural gas prices in the United States. But business leaders also recognize that reshoring allows U.S. manufacturers to explore greater efficiencies on the assembly line, preserve the skills of workers, reclaim the design process, and prevent core competencies from being copied or stolen by competitors.

Thanks to some $800 million in investments, Appliance Park recently opened up its first new assembly line in 55 years. Coming down the line are cutting-edge Geospring hybrid hot water heaters that used to be made in China by contractors. Another assembly line for high-tech refrigerators that GE used to make in Mexico has opened up in the complex, along with one for front-loading washing machines - which GE has never made in the United States before.

GE projects that its revved up U.S. based appliance business will add 1,300 jobs by 2014.

Read the entire post here.

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