03 Feb 2012
- Written by Carlee McCullough
From Brother Industries to Buckman Laboratories, manufacturing is alive in Memphis, and the recent additions of Electrolux and Mitsubishi speak to the possibility of growth.
In addition to paper and computers, Memphis firms manufacture beverages, tissue, pharmaceuticals and – coming soon – electrical transformers and stoves. All of these companies should serve as inspiration for other up-and-coming small businesses.
Keep in mind that manufacturing is an extremely important component to our diverse economy. As the nation attempts to rebound from a recession, more attention has been placed on American jobs and products.
This month, “On Our Way to Wealthy” focuses on manufacturing, specifically “mini manufacturing.” The term is one I coined for manufacturing businesses that are in the infant stages, with the potential for exponential growth when nurtured, supported and encouraged.
The United States was in a deep recession and many of the nation’s manufacturers were expressing a strong need to export their products when the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) was founded in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1895. NAM helped launch the National Council of Commerce, which later became the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
In the 1990s, NAM created the Manufacturing Institute after research showed that legislators, the government, the media, policy influencers and the public had an antiquated view about manufacturing’s vital leadership in innovation, job opportunity, technological progress and economic national security. The Institute continues to be a strong supporter of manufacturing interests by conducting groundbreaking research and combating misperceptions and stereotypes about manufacturing through educational and innovative programs.
Another manufacturing support organization – the American Small Manufacturers Coalition’s (ASMC) – sports a membership that employs 13 million Americans. According to it’s website, the coalition drives job growth in manufacturing support industries such as logistics, marketing, transportation and business services.
Manufacturing accounts for approximately two-thirds of domestic research and development expenditures. And ASMC believes that manufactured goods represent two-thirds of our exports and drives more net wealth creation than any other sector.
ASMC’s support for manufacturing includes hosting an annual Hill Day in Washington, D.C. This year it will be March 6-7. The event allows ASMC members and client companies to meet with their respective Congressional delegation to advocate support for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) in its annual appropriations process.
MEP (www.nist.gov) serves as a catalyst for strengthening American manufacturing by working with small and mid-sized U.S. manufacturers to help create and retain jobs, increase profits, and save time and money. The nationwide network provides a variety of services, from innovation strategies to process improvements to green manufacturing.
MEP also works with partners at the state and federal levels on programs that help manufacturers develop new clients, expand into new markets and create new products. The field staff has over 1,300 technical experts – located in every state – serving as trusted business advisors, focused on solving manufacturers’ challenges and identifying opportunities for growth.
As a program of the U.S. Department of Commerce, MEP offers clients a wealth of unique and effective resources centered on five critical areas: technology acceleration, supplier development, sustainability, workforce and continuous improvement.
President Barack Obama wants to double American exports by 2015 by targeting small businesses to help drive growth, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. The Administration wants to use federal resources, such as trade missions abroad and financing from the Export-Import Bank, to encourage more companies to export and to help those now participating in exporting to reach new markets.
American goods and services are in much demand overseas, a view offered by Former Commerce Secretary Gary Locke. Unfortunately, mini- and small-manufacturers are faced with multiple challenges: lack of knowledge of international markets and laws, little money for expansion, language and customs barriers and minimal knowledge pertaining to logistical issues of exporting.
So small business operators should not limit themselves to strictly doing business in the U.S. Instead, they should research international markets that may need their goods or services, and reach for the opportunities.
Remember, even the greats started small.