Finding New Stories in Domestic Manufacturing, Part 2

by September 9, 2016
American Flag photo via Pixabay

Some of the largest Fortune 500 companies are bringing factory jobs back to U.S. shores. American flag photo via Pixabay

A growing number of American companies are reshoring part or all of their operations to the U.S., a major theme in this election year. This blog looks at five Fortune 500 firms bringing manufacturing home, and focuses on story angles business reporters can use.

General Electric Co.

In 2011, General Electric brought the manufacturing of its energy-efficient water heaters back to Louisville, Kentucky after years of building the devices in China. USA Today reports that the move returned hundreds of manufacturing and engineering jobs to the States. The American Manufacturers Association also notes that over the past seven years General Electric has made high-efficiency light bulbs and batteries on American soil, adding 2,656 jobs. The Reshoring Initiative, a nonprofit advocacy group, reports the reasons for the switch: government incentives, the ability to improve business processes, and overseas issues such inventory control, currency changes, freight costs and personnel risks.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

The mammoth retailer is one the biggest American companies to reshore operations. Although it remains a major importer of goods from China, 2013 saw the launch of Walmart’s Made in America initiative. The company pledged that by 2030, it would purchase $250 billion of products made, sourced or grown in the U.S. The American Manufacturers Association reports that the program has already brought 4,838 jobs back to America. Walmart hopes its efforts can create 1 million jobs in America, according to Boston Consulting Group.

Ford Motor Co.

In 2015, Ford brought back part of its operations from Mexico and Spain to Avon Lake, Ohio, creating 3,200 manufacturing jobs in the process. Some of the company’s truck models and engines are also being manufactured in the U.S. 24/7 Wall Street reports that along with state tax breaks, improving manufacturing quality and reducing shipping costs were the biggest incentives for these moves.

Boeing Co.

In Fall 2014, Boeing announced plans to manufacture parts of its new 777X series passenger jets in St. Louis. Puget Sound Business Journal reports that a side benefit of the development will be tied to Boeing’s goal of “zero growth in greenhouse gas emissions over the decade ending in 2017.”

Caterpillar Inc.

Caterpillar has brought some of its manufacturing from Japan and Mexico to several plants across the U.S., including Victoria, Texas, and Athens, Georgia. San Antonio Business Journal reports that moving its construction equipment manufacturing operations from Mexico to Texas will bring around 200 jobs to region, and benefit both dealers and customers.


Reporter’s Takeaways

  • More U.S. companies are attempting to restore jobs to Americans by bringing back part or all of its operations from overseas. The Reshoring Initiative is an excellent resource for researching specific cases.
  • The Walmart Made in America initiative alone, through which the retailer pledges to purchase $250 billion of products made, sourced or grown in the states by 2030, hopes to restore 1 million jobs to the country.
  • Look into the incentives for companies to bring manufacturing back to the U.S.; state tax brakes, supply chain costs and green initiatives may play a role.

Correction: Information on the manufacturing of the Boeing 777X series was updated on January 9, 2017.

Debbi G McCullough runs Hanging Rock Media. She writes and edits for the Guardian’s Guardian Labs, Washington Post’s WP BrandStudio and the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism. She also teaches business communication part-time at the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School and is a United Nations Foundations press fellow 2016.