Global manufacturing has always been dynamic, but today, we are facing what can only be described as a sea change. Technology-intensive processes being developed in the United States and abroad are helping to drive competitiveness by increasing research, development and manufacturing efficiency. Additionally, challenges to the economy (not the least of which is the COVID-19 pandemic) have wrought other developments that will impact not only the ongoing push for reshoring but the increasingly competitive drive to develop a vaccine. At the same time, companies are striving to keep customers satisfied and to continue to attract a skilled workforce. This issue covers all these topics and we invite you to read on.
To say that 2020 has proved to be challenging to business and industry might be one of the understatements of the century. Most of the world was blindsided by the global COVID-19 pandemic and there was not a sector of the economy that went untouched. But our country is nothing if not nimble and adaptive, and vital industries such as food production, aerospace and automotive, our themes for this issue, began rethinking their supply chains, leading to an avalanche of reshoring plans, with the intention of bringing at least some of that production back to the U.S. In this issue, professionals are sharing their insights on all the ways the country’s industries have pivoted to adapt to the new reality. We can all learn from them.
This issue features a number of important topics, including supply chain management & logistics, plastics and metalworking & fabricating. But there seems to be one theme that continues to find its way into virtually every area, and that has to do with workforce—development, training and availability. One of the biggest concerns and considerations that companies, executives and site selectors need to factor into any decision is how they can conduct their business with their current workforce, how to improve their talent and how to ensure they’ll have the qualified labor needed for the future.
There are both similarities and differences between traditional and advanced manufacturing, as our feature, “Creating an Environment to Attract Advanced Manufacturing,” points out. Another feature in this issue helps to determine if a community is “utility-friendly” for business expansion. We also look at the U.S. Foreign-Trade Zones Program, which helps an ever-growing number of U.S.-based businesses maintain their international competitiveness. “Sites & Programs” focuses on workforce training and education, and we look at four key states for growth: Florida, North Carolina, Kentucky and Ohio.