For a long time, I’ve called on Apple to start manufacturing here in the U.S.—not just for the jobs it would create, but because the company is a bellwether in so many ways. It’s great for us to pump up our collective chests and proclaim how much of an innovative country we are, pointing to game changing companies like Apple. But having to acknowledge that we don’t even produce the products that Apple develops somehow takes much of the air out of our manufacturing sails.
So it was welcome news when Apple announced that it will start producing a line of Mac computers here in the U.S. Ever since CEO Tim Cook’s December announcement, the story has gotten an enormous amount of press. Apple does source some of its materials here in the U.S., notably its glass and some processors. Journalists are asking whether this is the beginning of a new focus on America manufacturing. And we’ve seen story after story on how American workers are becoming more of a bargain that previously thought. Hence, the whole reshoring argument for bringing manufacturers jobs back from Asia to the U.S. that this column has covered extensively.
The second big-name tech company to make waves was Oracle. Just last month, the governor of Oregon revealed that the company had committed to bring an additional 130 jobs (not to mention retaining about 300 already onsite) to its facilities in suburban Portland. This increased production will come at Mexico’s expense.
Who’s next? We’ve lost a lot of high-tech jobs that we’ll never get back, but that doesn’t mean we should stop trying to lure high-tech jobs or stop investing in education that will support those jobs. While I don’t see a slew of, say, semiconductor manufacturers moving their entire manufacturing operations to the States, I do think there’s value in the P.R. aspect of reshoring.
Don’t believe me? Apple’s investment of perhaps $100 million in this to-be-decided location is peanuts compared to the company’s more than $100 billion in annual revenue (or more than $100 billion in cash reserves, for that matter). How much press has the company received from this one announcement, and what is that worth? And we haven’t even gotten into the geographical fight for the manufacturing facility, which will surely be a doozey. Imagine the press that will happen when Apple releases the potential sites, the finalists, whatever. Cities from Austin to Phoenix to San Jose to Boston will be clamoring for the business. And less known tech-friendly cities or states will see this as an opportunity to cement their names into the tech lexicon—and attract future manufacturing gems.
Where do you think Apple’s new manufacturing facilities will land? Comment on Paul’s blog on Pneumatic Tips.
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