Manufacturing Month: Inside America’s New Manufacturing Boom

October 27, 2023

Dr. Heather Evans is ITA’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing.

This is the third piece in a blog series about the 2023 National Export Strategy, a government-wide strategic plan to support American businesses through trade promotion activities.

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Deputy Assistant Secretary Heather Evans sits in a small excavator machine on the National Mall

If assembly lines and conveyor belts are the first images that come to mind when you think of manufacturing, look closer. Today’s world-class U.S. manufacturing workforce has come a long way from the Industrial Revolution, adding innovative tools to its toolkit including 3D printing, robotics and automation, artificial intelligence, and other powerful digital technologies. It’s also a sector no longer dominated by big factories—small and medium-sized enterprises are major players in creating next generation products across all industry sectors, from automotives and aerospace to pharmaceuticals and semiconductors and supercomputers.

The United States’ rapid expansion, research, and innovation in these technologies is what President Biden calls a “new manufacturing boom,” led by the hardworking Americans whose work serves as the backbone of our economy. As Deputy Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing, I am privileged to witness this boom with my own eyes—from meeting with U.S. companies developing the next generation of aerospace technology at the Paris Air Show, to seeing digital transformation research prototypes at the Manufacturing USA Institute in Chicago, and touring the new wave of high-tech construction equipment on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

Here are three perspectives about how investments from the U.S. public and private sector, and foreign direct investment (FDI) from global companies, are supporting this boom:

  1. Workers are reaping the rewards of historic investments: After decades offshore, U.S. manufacturers are coming back in big numbers. American entrepreneurs are infusing innovation into the sector, and younger generations are landing high-paying jobs thanks to workforce training programs. These achievements are results of newly-signed laws by President Biden as part of the Administration’s Invest in America Agenda. For example, Suniva, Inc., a solar cell manufacturer, recently announced it is restarting operations in Norcross, Georgia—a move that will create 240 clean tech jobs by mid-2024. The company credits provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act that allow Suniva to relocate its production unit while strengthening the international competitiveness of the U.S. solar supply chain. With a stronger base at home, U.S. firms may also soon be in a better position to export solar PV panels and components.
  2. Global companies are drawn to the ‘Made in America’ brand: The U.S. workforce and business environment is second to none, and that’s a fact. For 11 consecutive years, the United States has ranked #1 top destination for global investment, according to A.T. Kearney’s FDI index. At the 2023 SelectUSA Investment Summit, the United States’ premier forum where numerous major wins are announced, one company—Nel Hydrogen of Norway—announced the establishment of an automated, 4 gigawatt electrolyzer facility for manufacturing hydrogen in Michigan. The company was drawn to Michigan’s skilled workforce and ecosystem of universities and research partners, and as a result of their $400 million investment, 500 jobs new jobs will be created, and the facility will further cement the state’s leadership in hydrogen energy as a clean alternative.
  3. We are strengthening our supply chains to withstand any challenge: Pandemics, natural disasters, and geopolitical conflict are factors that impact global supply chains and create vulnerabilities that disrupt our lives and that of our industries. That is why ITA recently established a first-of-its-kind Supply Chain Center to partner with industry and harness big data and advanced analytics to anticipate and mitigate global supply chain challenges and ensure that U.S. businesses lead the industries of the future.

From every angle, U.S. manufacturing is a powerhouse of innovation, a constant driver of economic growth, and a consistent source of skilled jobs of the future. Through the new National Export Strategy, the U.S. government is united in strengthening our support for our manufacturing industry through trade finance programs, export counseling services, promoting acceptance of international standards, and more. October is Manufacturing Month, so please join me in thanking the American manufacturing workforce for leading us into the 21st century global economy.