Made in the USA

By From page A4 | January 28, 2013

There’s a trend reemerging, and as Americans we should all happily jump on board. USA Today reported that small manufacturers, craftsmen and retailers are marketing the Made-in-USA tag to score do-gooder points with consumers for employing stateside, quoting Margarita Mendoza, founder of the Made in America Movement, a lobbying organization for small manufacturers.

In a time when the country’s economy is in desperate need of an overhaul, this is a movement the general public can be a part of. Lawmakers of both parties will continue to battle over policy in Washington, D.C., but real power resides in the consumers of America, and as this movement grows, so does the possibility of some sort of financial recovery in the United States.

The effort is simple: Shoppers look for a Made-in-USA tag on products they want to purchase. They buy them for a slightly higher price, and the money stays here, going back to hardworking Americans and their families.

These products were manufactured in the United States creating jobs and local revenue without outsourcing to other countries. The price is higher because the cost of doing business stateside is higher. Manufacturers take a financial hit to make American, so American consumers take a financial hit to support them.

Easy in theory, the practice won’t be so easy to apply in day-to-day life. People are cutting corners to save money in these tough times, and paying more for a similar product simply for the principle of it will be a tough sell.

Or will it? According to a survey released in November by Boston Consulting Group, over 80 percent of Americans are willing to pay more for Made-in-USA products, 93 percent of whom say it’s because they want to keep jobs in the USA.

Also, some made in American products are competitive because of the abundant and extremely low cost of natural gas, resulting from the shale fracturing revolution.

When considering similar products made in the U.S. vs. China, the average American is willing to pay up to 60 percent more for U.S.-made wooden baby toys, 30 percent more for U.S.-made mobile phones and 19 percent more for U.S.-made gas ranges, the survey said. Support, seemingly, is thriving. This should lead to companies jumping on board to stock their shelves with such products.

Some already have. Wal-Mart pledged to source $50 billion of products in the U.S. over the next 10 years. Mendoza said Caterpillar and 3M are also making a go of it.

For the trend to continue, more companies will have to jump on board, including companies like Apple known for being American but who ship production overseas. Make American and we’ll buy it. Together, we can make the change. Apple, in fact, is planning to reopen a manufacturing plant near the Bay Area.

Is it a risk? Absolutely. Manufacturers would have to transform their way of doing business, invest in local factories, and hope the shopping trend becomes the natural way of doing business here for the long haul. But is it a risk worth taking? Definitely. If we want to fix America we need to take some responsibility for it, and this is an opportunity to do so.

“If they don’t understand the economic factor, we need to pull on their heartstrings,” Mendoza said. “The thought of having a country like China taking over, that alone is bone-chilling.”

Mountain Democrat

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