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Monday, September 1, 2014

Riding the Reshoring Wave

American companies are beginning to return jobs from abroad to American facilities. Above, Chinese factory workers. Credit: Steve Jurvetson

Last week, Apple CEO Tim Cook’s announced that the company will move some of its computer production back to the United States. This week, we have a broader analysis of the reshoring trend by The Atlantic.

The Atlantic profiles General Electric (GE) as part of a broader take on the “insourcing boom” currently hitting America. GE employment, which peaked at 23,000 in 1973, was dwindling until February of this year, when two new assembly lines opened to produce cutting-edge appliances. Both assembly lines were creating technology that had previously been made for the company in Mexico and China.

GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt explained why he spent $800 million to create the new assembly lines.“I don’t do that because I run a charity. I do that because I think we can do it here and make more money.”

Charles Fishman, who wrote the Atlantic story, told NPR’s All Things Considered that he felt companies were looking to reshoring for gains more than just financial. “What I discovered is it’s not clear this huge wave of outsourcing was done for really smart, rational business reasons,” he said. He added that intellectual property security concerns were largely overlooked when companies began outsourcing.

In The Atlantic, Fishman notes that while reshoring could be a fad, GE has experienced enough benefits to seriously object to that cynical view.

“Bringing jobs back to [GE’s] Appliance Park solves a problem,” he says. “It is sparking a wave of fresh innovation in GE’s appliances – every major appliance line has been redesigned or will be in the next two years – and the experience of ‘big room’ redesign, involving a whole team, is itself inspiring further, faster advances.”

Brian Lane

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