On Your Marks

Aug 12, 2015

How many times in life, when in the middle of a fundamental shift in the world around us, are we given choices about how to proceed? For US manufacturers, this is one of those moments, where they can choose to be leaders or laggards.

In the 1980’s, faced with rising competition from new market players, an economy in recovery, and increasing energy costs, U.S. manufacturers embraced global outsourcing of production to stay competitive. In the absence of national leadership that would level the playing field against low-cost sourcing countries, what followed was the mass exodus of middle-class jobs, fragmented supply chains and a drain on the knowledge base. Decades later, wages have stagnated in the US, while rising in other regions. And US manufacturers have lost the expertise in how to build products that kept them on top for more than a century.

Today, the US is recognizing that a vibrant manufacturing sector is essential to a strong economy. So too, do other countries. In May 2015, the Chinese government launched an ambitious vision to transform Chinese manufacturing from the world’s source of low-cost labor to the leader in innovation and quality. Made in China 2025 marks the start of a new race to lead in manufacturing and an opportunity for US manufacturers to grab the pole position.

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