There is no doubt that the key to long-term success in manufacturing is innovation in every facet of the business, from developing unique products, like the iPod, to finding new ways of getting products into people hands, like Amazon.com.
Pharmaceutical and consumer products companies, among others, have historically shifted their mature products overseas, while maintaining at least some of their domestic operations for the development and early production of new products and line extensions. US based manufacturing has heavily relied on the rate of innovation of the organization. This trend continues and is the key to our manufacturing base.
High margin products, such as medical devices, are less sensitive to relative production costs as long as they have a unique product. Even in those cases, as volume increases the financial pressures to migrate production to locations with lower labor costs also increase. Such high margin industries continue to be significant to our manufacturing base.
In South Florida, manufacturing is not considered by local governments as a target sector for expansion. No effort is made to attract new manufacturing plants. Municipalities and county governments are more interested in attracting and retaining “cleaner” industries, such as, tourism and entertainment. On a national scale, manufacturing has not been recognized as the significant sector that it is.
The role of government at every level is to provide the conditions needed for innovative manufacturing to flourish and to prevent other countries from establishing barriers to the entry of our products while our doors are wide open to the world’s products.
To summarize, I agree that innovation is the key to continued success combined with forward thinking leadership at every level of government.