Carolina’s On Our Mind
The staff of the Foundation has just returned from the High Point Furniture Show. This show is the largest furniture show in the world, with 75,000 attendees from 120 countries. Furniture-makers from Asia, Europe, the United States and other countries display their wares to buyers and designers.
The Foundation anchored the Made in America Pavilion, a large display of furniture from 50 American companies. The American furniture industry has been decimated by imports from China: we have almost lost a $50 billion industry. As the editorial in this issue reports: American furniture is coming back, slowly, but nonetheless, it is coming back.
The media, led by ABC news, has helped the turnaround. ABC Nightly News has been reporting Made in the USA issues nearly every week for the past year. The High Point Enterprise, High Point’s local newspaper, noted that the “American-made focus returns.” The Enterprise reported during the show, “Groups such as the Made in the USA Foundation, which has space in the Made in America Pavilion, are dedicated to
promoting American-made products across a variety of industries. Joel D. Joseph, chairman of the Foundation, said there’s a growing demand for products of all kinds made in America, and because of that he’s seen ideas such as the Made in America Pavilion on the rise at other markets and expositions similar to High Point.”
The Enterpise article concluded, “with increased efforts to convince consumers that buying American is the way to go, maybe we’ll see the economic revival for which we’re all striving.”
Mary Jackson is a master basket maker who lives in Charleston, South Carolina. She makes sweetgrass baskets that come out of a tradition that has been passed down to her from her ancestors. It originated in West Africa, and then was brought to America by slaves. This kind of basket making is an identifying cultural practice for people who were cut off from their own history, and has been a part of Charleston and Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina communities for more than 300 years. Jackson uses sweetgrass, palmetto, pine needles, and bulrush in her work, which is innovative, but always mindful of its past. Her baskets are represented in many collections including the American Craft Museum, White House Collection of Arts and Crafts, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, and Museum of African American History, Detroit.
We Are Coming Back!
By Joel D. Joseph, Chairman, Made in the USA Foundation
The Wall Street Journal, long the cheerleaders for outsourcing jobs to Asia, has now proclaimed that “Made in the USA” is back. The Journal reported, “U.S. manufacturers are more competitive with global rivals than at any time in recent memory. Energy costs and other expenses are falling, manufacturers say. And U.S. workers’ pay has become more competitive with foreign wages.”
The Bank of America recently wrote in a report titled An Industrial Revolution: “The U.S. economy is in the early stages of a long-term manufacturing renaissance.” The B of A study found that, “Manufacturers are increasingly likely to bring at least some production back to the U.S. while established players reinvest for further productive capacity and productivity improvements over the coming years.”
At the High Point Furniture Show, where the Made in America Pavilion housed 50 U.S. manufacturers, Ashley Furniture announced that it was building a new factory in North Carolina. Lincolnton Furniture has also broken ground on a new furniture factory.
Brooks Brothers and Levis, two clothing companies that fled the United States, are working together on a Made in the USA venture: Levis is once again making jeans in the United States, where it invented them in 1853. Two models of Levis will be made for Brooks Brothers, selling for about $144 a pair. Brooks Brothers is also making a few dress shirts in the United States. Karen Kane, a leading maker of women’s clothing, now makes about 80% of its apparel in Los Angeles. Formerly, Kane imported most of its clothing from China.
South Carolina is jumping with new manufacturing activity. French tire maker Michelin is building a new plant there. Boeing recently opened its first East Coast factory in North Charleston, S.C. where it is manufacturing the 787 Dreamliner, the carbon-fiber aircraft that uses 20% less jet fuel.
Detroit is on the rebound as well. Auto sales are booming. GM is once again the largest automobile manufacturer in the world. And the television manufacturing industry, long gone from the United States, is starting up again in Detroit. Element Electronics has moved production of its larger flat-screen televisions from Asia to Michigan.
We still have a trade deficit problem, but it is starting to turn around.