Mind you, I do not have a deep-seated fear of snakes. I will give poisonous ones a wide berth, but have no problem with picking up and handling the non-venomous varieties.
Big hairy spiders, now that is a different story. For some peculiar reason, I just wanted a picture of Rosie perched on my person. I suspect that the Mexican beer, which we stopped for in order to be well-provisioned for our expedition, provided me with the required courage. Basically, it was an opportunity for them to give more than an elevator speech. I dutifully took notes and nodded respectfully, and even occasionally asked a question. By my count, I had seven such meetings on Tuesday morning; 21 meetings on Wednesday; and then another seven on Thursday morning, for a total of 35 meetings over a three-day span.
Now if I told you that I remembered everything said in those 35 meetings, I am sure you would believe me, right? Notice that I have not made that claim. But actually these meetings did serve a worthy purpose. I got to see and spend time with old friends and then make new friends, and there is always a value to that.
Ultimately, business is built around people interacting with each other. Establishing relationships greases the wheel and makes that all the more easier. But it does mean that I can place a face with a name and know who to turn to if and when the time comes that a project comes knocking. So again, I met with economic developers representing 35 different organizations. The first night was Arizona night, as was appropriate. The consultants — which included long-time friends David Dodd, Alison Benton and Brent Pollina — were extolled the virtues and advantages of Arizona.
And it was at that dinner at a Japanese restaurant where I learned that Gilbert, Arizona, was the center of the universe. I did not know this. In the goodie bag delivered to my room, there was an apple with a sticker attached to it. The sticker said this: Gilbert has over 2 million-square-feet of hospital and clinical research space and world class facilities in stem cell, cardiovascular and oncology sciences, regenerative medicine, medical device equipment and pharmaceuticals.
I got that, as any place that makes algae for commercial use has to be innovative. You see, Heliae Development LLC recently began producing nutraceutical and personal care products that uses algae.
Certainly all the representatives of all the communities with whom I met have attributes worth considering should the right circumstances dictate.
And it is by those circumstances that communities are included or eliminated in a site search based on geography. And you can say that about every place. Opening the Ball with Jolt I gave the first presentation of the conference. Rather than repeating drivel that millions of new manufacturing jobs are in our future, I told the truth, which was no doubt a tough pill to swallow.
And the truth is that as we are only in the early stages of a new digital age of technology and continue to become more productive in our manufacturing processes, legions of people will be left out in the cold simply because they will not be needed. To lend balance, I did present the converse side to my argument. As productivity increases, the savings created are passed along to the consumer. If those savings are spent on other stuff, then job creation occurs.
Still, I do not believe those job-creating savings derived from greater productivity are supplanting the jobs being destroyed in this digital machine age. Certainly new technology does create new jobs. Software engineers should be in the catbird seat. But it is currently those lower-skilled jobs that demand essentially robotic, repetitive motion action which are being replaced by automation.
The challenge for the economic developers is to build upon an environment where technical knowhow can in essence be manufactured. If you cannot establish a technical brainline baseline from which to operate, then you will not be in a competitive position to win the manufacturing plant of the future. And that plant by its very nature will employ fewer people. But those people are critical as they must be more than technologically adroit, but capable of sophisticated problem solving.
We Do Have an Ace The good news is that the United States does have some great advantages when compared to the rest of the world. Our demographics are superior to that that of Europe, where fertility rates have plummeted and where an actual shrinking of the marketplace is evolving.
A shale gas revolution pioneered in the U. We are currently the largest energy producing country in the world and will soon begin exporting liquid natural gas. Our lower energy costs in comparison to the rest of the world U. And no doubt, we will see companies from around the world establishing manufacturing operations here as a result of the energy cost advantages. The National Association of Manufacturers says the shale boom could add 1 million manufacturing jobs in the country by if natural gas price increases remain moderate and industry regulation is favorable.
I believe that is a reasonable estimate, but always keep in mind that we lost 6 million manufacturing jobs in the first decade of the 21st century. Those companies that toughed it through the Great Recession simply learned to survive and compete by using fewer people.
That overriding trend will only continue as technology advances with continued productivity strides. If that number were to climb by a single point, I would be most surprised as it would go against the long-term grain of history.
It was a fantastic claim to be sure. While it is becoming more apparent as to advantages of manufacturing in the U. A surge in Chinese wages, higher shipping costs, and a desire to protect intellectual property means that U. But know this, of the , manufacturing jobs created since , a tidy gain to be sure, it represents a fraction of what was lost. The truth is that we are never going to have the mass employment in manufacturing in this country that we once had, because of the march of machines and the tide of history will not allow it.
That is not to say that manufacturing is not of incredible importance to our future as a world power. Manufacturing is actually key to our future and makes for a wonderful career for a young person starting out.
You will, in short, be part of an elite group with technical knowledge. Will more reshoring happen and will an energy boon create new manufacturing jobs? For economic developers, there will be opportunities. Will there be a tidal wave of millions of new manufacturing jobs to come as a result? Only in your dreams. If your company needs an optimal location for future operations anywhere in North America, we can help.
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