Great Lakes Manufacturing Council

Manufacturing Strikes Back


Manufactu19 ring in North America is off the ropes and landing increasingly-heavy counterpunches.  Think about it:  Manufacturing has actually led the economic recovery in the United States.  We suspect it will also be the leader in Canada in the fullness of time.   And, we can’t remember when we’ve last seen references to the “Rust Belt.”

How can this happen in an era where manufacturing is supposed to be dumb, dirty, dull, dangerous and dying?  Said simply, manufacturing is becoming much more competitive.  Let's count the ways:

  1. Manufacturers are enjoying the fruits of continuous restructuring, including thousands of private restructurings from small to large - think Ford - and two prominent public restructurings - think   Chrysler and General Motors
  2. Manufacturing is in vogue with policymakers, because they see increasing activity levels and rising payrolls - the bandwagon effect
  3. Manufacturers are embracing the digital age, where prototypes can be rapidly made and production can be fit to scale
  4. Innovation is on the rise
  5. Energy is abundant and affordable - Canada is self-sufficient and the U.S. is on its way
  6. Other countries are becoming comparatively less competitive - another way of saying every dog has his day
  7. Between management and labor, peace and productivity are the order of the day

Can this resurgence continue in the face of increasing world-wide economic weakness?  Relatively speaking, yes.  Economic conditions will continue to drive manufacturing innovation and productivity, and policymakers will become increasingly interested in manufacturing because of its wage potential and high multiplier effects.  They now recognize that successful societies grow things and make things.  For a deeper dive into this “Return of the Jedi” trend, and what else we can do, check out the Council on Competitiveness.

Coming blogs will share more about this surprising trend and highlight the many ways in which Great Lakes manufacturing is transforming.  Join the conversation and tell us what you think.