Here’s Where Manufacturing Is Thriving in America
For the past decade, headlines have ping-ponged back and forth between the demise of American manufacturing and the emergence of a new industrial renaissance. As always, the truth lies somewhere in between. American manufacturing faces major headwinds, but it’s also evolving into something built for the future.
One of the biggest touchpoints for manufacturing articles (positive and negative) is the focus on where industry exists in America. Headlines proclaiming “the Rust Belt is rusting” or “the Silicon Valley of manufacturing” shed light on the shift of traditional manufacturing away from certain geographic areas to new planes.
The Midwest and Great Lakes regions have traditionally played host to the bulk of the American manufacturing economy. But with improvements in supply chain and globalization of the workforce, manufacturing has crept out of the Rust Belt and into new regions of the U.S. Some of unlikely steads of the new manufacturing economy include:
- Florida. The Sunshine State’s lack of income tax and thriving metro population are a major draw for manufacturers. Big names including Lockheed Martin and Siemens Energy have moved operations to the Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford area and spurred major manufacturing growth in the area ― as much as 23.6% growth since 2012. The Miami Beach area has subsequently benefited, seeing a 22.6% surge in industry since 2012.
- Arizona. Manufacturing tech is booming in Arizona, and so are jobs within the field. Manufacturing jobs spiked 5.5% in 2017, turning the Valley of the Sun (Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale) into a Southwestern Silicon Valley of sorts. Tech companies across all industries have grown an astronomical 318% since 2012.
- Michigan. Michigan has always been among the manufacturing leaders thanks to the automotive industry. Now, the state is finding new legs in new sectors of manufacturing. With a skilled labor force already present, lower-than-average cost of living, and access to the Great Lakes, the state has benefited from 18.5% industrial job growth since 2012. Cities including Battle Creek and Grand Rapids are front-runners in job growth.
- Nevada. The desert is the perfect epicenter for new manufacturing. It’s not far from tech hubs in San Francisco, California, and Phoenix, Arizona, with affordable real estate and access to great initiatives like solar power. Reno, Nevada, is expected to tap 10% manufacturing job growth from 2018 to 2019, with a moderate median income of just over $40,000 to attract skilled laborers.
- Tennessee. Chattanooga, Clarksville, and Knoxville are all projected to show manufacturing growth of 5%-10% from 2018 to 2019. Diverse manufacturers have settled on Tennessee for its low cost of living and workforce ― many of which have migrated from the rust belt looking for new opportunities. Similarly, nearby Kentucky and Mississippi expect to see benefits as well.
The data is clear: Manufacturing has found new roots in diverse locations across the states. What’s driving the migration? Factors such as cost of living, pocketed workforce, and most of all, state and city incentives for manufacturers.
While cities like Reno, Nevada, and states like Florida experience newfound industrial booms, traditional manufacturing hubs see exodus. Pennsylvania isn’t the manufacturing magnate it once was. Ohio is leaving manufacturing behind. The jumbled geographic landscape of manufacturing’s new future is still taking root, and it’s primarily responsible for the sway between the media’s take on industry. Only as the new manufacturing economy congeals will the true picture of American industry become clearer.