U.S. Manufacturing Needs A Restart
Randy Wolken, President & CEO

Why do so many of us make New Year’s Resolutions? What makes January 1 so special? Wouldn’t December 1 or May 1 be just as good of a time to make a change for the better? According to experts, apparently not. For so many people, January 1 marks the start of something new and a chance for change. Milestones give us a chance to change and become better, stronger, or focused on a different outcome. As we move out of this pandemic, it’s time for a fresh start for our country. Now is the time to choose once again to be the #1 manufacturing country in the world. This is our moment.

Over the past 50 years, we have abandoned what once made the United States the most robust economy in the world. We once created and manufactured the world’s goods. We have seen the devastating impacts of letting this focus change during the pandemic and the accompanying economic downturn. We were, and remain, dependent on countries like China for our medical supplies, personal protective equipment, semiconductor chips, and too much of our military supply chain. This is not only unwise economically; it is a threat to our well-being and national security. Now, we need to change all that.

We have extended our supply chains to a point of vulnerability. A single ship stuck sideways in the Suez Canal can disrupt our supply chains and increase the prices of vital goods. How is this possible? We let ourselves become dependent on other nations’ technology and manufacturing capacity who neither share our values nor national interests. Now is the time to change the situation. Vital products that are essential to our well-being need to be made here in the United States. This also goes for other products we use every day. In a global economy, we need to ensure our suppliers are in countries that share our commitment to free and fair trade, as well as democratic freedoms and principles. Where our products are made matters greatly to our future, it is time we take our economic and national security seriously.

So, how do we do this? First, we need to know where our products are made. As consumers, we need to demand to know where the things we buy are made. We should also know the entire story. What percentage of the product is made where in our world. This way, we can use our dollars to promote our security and national well-being. MACNY supports laws that make it clear where the products we use are made. We should also hold nations who make our products accountable for treating and paying their workers fairly. And we should not allow countries like China to use their state-owned and supported businesses to buy up our technology and competitive advantage. This will lead to greater weakness in our national security.

Second, we need to reinvest in being the world leader in new and emerging technologies. Technology and manufacturing capabilities will define who leads the world in the 21st Century and beyond. Do we want China to define the world economy? We will soon surrender our role as the world leader on our current path due to the unfair advantages they give their state-supported companies. Is this wise to do? Most people would say this is dangerous. MACNY supports a national approach to investing in the defining technologies of today and tomorrow.

Finally, the critical component to greatness is a great workforce. With technology becoming readily available to anyone who wants it, who is using and operating the technology becomes vitally important. Increasingly, our talented workforce is how we will become world leaders in creating and making products again. We must not settle for only creating and designing world-class products. We need to make them. When we produce products, we capture the entire value chain and maintain outstanding jobs. Our country needs to invest in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) careers and pathways. Today we have a large and growing shortage of technology capabilities within our workforce to lead in cutting edge technologies and manufacturing capacity. We need to regain it now.

Now is our moment to refocus our attention as communities and as a nation on being the world leader in manufacturing. We need to do it to secure our future. It is the dawn of a new era of manufacturing leadership and excellence. The United States needs to lead the free world in creating a freer and more prosperous world. And if we don’t seize this moment, China most certainly will with its control economy and suppression of democratic freedoms. It is our New Year. Let’s resolve to once again prosper at making goods and supplying services for our country and the entire world.