States Competing to Lure Job Creators

America’s manufacturing comeback is in full swing – depending where you are. Some state governments are aggressively pursuing job creators, others are trimming efforts due to fiscal problems and still others have never effectively competed. Here’s the latest roundup.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer couldn’t be happier that Apple selected her state for a new plant that will create 2,000 jobs making smartphone components out of sapphire. The move by Apple CEO Tim Cook to add U.S. jobs became a priority after stinging criticism that Apple couldn’t truly be American’s biggest corporate success story if it makes all its products abroad.

It remains to be seen just how generous the State of Arizona had to be in order to land this huge economic-development prize. But the prestige of landing Apple was a major coup for the Arizona governor, and will surely bring glowing attention to the state over the next few years as Apple and its supplier-partner, GT Advanced Technologies, build and then open the plant. Arizona ranked an impressiveNo. 6 in the 2013 Chief Executive’s Best & Worst States for business rankings, with Brewer touting its “lean regulations, low taxes and high-quality workforce.”

The possibility that the components being built in Mesa, Ariz., would be put into smartphones at an assembly plant for iPhones operated by Taiwan-based supplier Foxconn in Juarez, Mexico seemed only a footnote. Apple also notably made the promise that the new plant would run 100 percent on renewable energy from day one. “Apple is indisputably one of the world’s most innovative companies and I’m thrilled to welcome them to Arizona,” Brewer said.

Meanwhile, Boeing was leaning hard on its unions for benefits concessions and on Washington State for billions of dollars in tax breaks and infrastructure improvements to agree to retain manufacturing of major chunks of its new 777X jet in its traditional Puget Sound manufacturing base.

But things have changed: Boeing easily could put the production near its new plant in South Carolina, which ranked No. 8 in Chief Executive’s Best & Worst States survey this year, or in Texas or Utah (ranked 1 and 12, respectively), reports said.

In another high-profile, made-in-America development, Walmart announced the identities of three suppliers that have made new domestic-manufacturing commitments for sourcing goods to Walmart that will create 385 jobs. Walmart said that more than 1,600 jobs have been promised at supplies since its highly publicized commitment earlier this year to buy an additional $50 billion in U.S.-made products over the next decade.

Critics still say that $50 billion is a drop in the bucket for Walmart. But at least the bucket is dripping into America and not somewhere else.





Dale Buss: Dale Buss is a long-time contributor to Chief Executive, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal and other business publications. He lives in Michigan.
Related Post