May 20, 2024


To endeavor by the extraordinary patronage of Government, to accelerate the growth of manufactures, is in fact, to endeavor, by force and art, to transfer the natural current of industry, from a more to a less beneficial channel.”

– Alexander Hamilton

Manufacturing employs nearly 10% of our nation’s workforce and has grown its employment by nearly 9% over the past decade. As the second largest manufacturing economy in the world, the United States is a center for manufacturing excellence. Following the shortages experienced by much of the world in 2020, significant efforts were initiated to build more resilient and secure supply chains for semiconductors, pharmaceuticals, medical supplies, and basic consumer items such as food and toilet paper. We were reminded how important it was to make things and all the benefits that come with it.

Many discovered what economic developers have known for decades: manufacturing is a great way to build an economy. The manufacturing sector provides great jobs and has an extraordinary multiplier of downstream jobs in the community, meaning it stimulates small business and adds more to the tax base than most sectors. It values and leverages technology, is science-based, and values skills employees that come from diverse backgrounds and educational levels.

All of these are reasons to work hard to retain and attract these employers, but it’s easier said than done. Manufacturing requires a workforce that is willing to work on your feet, often in a fast-paced environment. Math and science skills are an expectation, as well as a willingness to work in teams and without access to your personal phone for hours. It requires well-planned real estate served by natural gas, electricity, water & wastewater, and fiber. It requires a favorable tax environment so that companies can build locally and sell & compete globally.

The U.S. is an extraordinary manufacturing champion and has been since Alexander Hamilton made it a key part of our nation’s economicdevelopment strategy. You will find manufacturing in every type of community in the country and from coast to coast. Our biggest cities were built as manufacturing centers, many of our industrial parks are found in suburban communities, and rural America has traditionally embraced manufacturing as a compliment and necessary partner to the powerful agricultural sector.

I’m likely preaching to the choir in this note and most of you know all the above.  Here is where it gets a little more exciting: by embracing manufacturing excellence, we can not only rebuild our supply chains and take more control of our economic destiny, but also rebuild our energy, water and wastewater, and transit infrastructure in the process. In many cases, we’ve neglected the basic things we depend on the most, which provide our food, energy, military, and economic security. The work is underway all over the country, but much more will need to be done. AI, software that predicts and performs maintenance, and advanced computing will unlock even more innovation—and manufacturing will be at the forefront of this movement.

Being in favor of manufacturing does not mean that you do not recognize the importance of finance and insurance, healthcare, logistics, or hospitality. All these sectors are necessary for manufacturing to thrive and grow. If we continue to prioritize manufacturing competitiveness, the other sectors of the economy will only be strengthened.

Let’s have a great week, lift each other up, and move forward together.


Manufacturing Industry Outlook

10 Manufacturing Trends for 2024

Manufacturing in the United States

Kenny McDonaldPresident and CEOColumbus Partnership