Dear U.S., Don't Mess Up Further Foreign Investment

In recent years, the United States has been blessed with growth in manufacturing. And fortunately, this growth is still happening and is expected to increase through the next several years. It’s boosting the economy, bringing back jobs and revitalizing a sense of pride in American-made products.

A few weeks ago, I traveled to Europe to visit several manufacturing facilities. I had the opportunity to sit and talk with workers and executives about processes, innovation, exports, labor and many other issues that impact manufacturing production. Guess what the resounding consensus was? These companies are ready to expand, and the United States is the number one destination for new facilities.

Manufacturers recognize that the United States is the logical places to invest for multiple reasons. For starters, energy plays a vital role in America being the number one choice. In the past decade, the U.S. has become a vast natural resource with increasingly available domestic gas and oil. Also, though America does face challenges when it comes to the skills gap and workforce development, when compared to other countries, the U.S. still excels. What’s more, America is being proactive in trying to stimulate STEM and the perception of manufacturing not only in higher educational institutions, but also in high schools and even some elementary schools.

In addition, America serves as a safe place for capital investment. Unlike other nations, the fear of the government stepping in and taking over a company or demanding part ownership does not exist. The U.S. legal and social systems were built with respect for capital and intellectual property. Companies know they can trust the U.S. to allow them to prosper, which opens countless doors for foreign investment.

Thirdly, in the United States, the cost of production is more economical than it is in other countries. While this is partly a result of energy and skills developments, transportation costs and innovation also add to the equation. Foreign manufacturers want to be close to the American consumer, and with importing and exporting costs, the United States again serves as the logical choice for investment. We’re already seeing this trend as a recent HSBC survey shows China’s manufacturing has experienced decline of late.

Beyond these very specific reasons, companies appreciate the United States and the role that manufacturing serves in our economy. They understand that it is respected and want to be part of it.

While this is incredibly promising news for America, we have got to understand the significance it could have on our great nation. We have an enormous opportunity in front of us to grow as a global superpower. Apart from the global impact, the economic influence could put more people back to work and increase consumer spending. We, as a nation, have a powerful opportunity in front of us that we cannot damage. To keep this momentum alive, I encourage our government to put politics aside and focus on growth. I also urge manufacturers to continue building a strong workforce and incorporating innovative technology that creates smarter and more efficient end products. To parents, I ask that you educate your children on modern manufacturing so that they will associate it not with a dirty factory floor, but with a long-term well-paying and well-respected career. And to society, I ask for continued support of the force that makes the United States strong – manufacturing.

    June 11, 2014

    Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a contributing author and not necessarily Gray.

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