Living in the Greenville area, one realizes how much our economy is tied to manufacturing. We have been hearing for the last few years how manufacturing has declined, if not died, in America. We are up in arms at all the jobs we have lost to cheaper markets overseas, notably China. When we drive through the local hills, which I love to do on weekend, our eyes are often accosted by huge, empty plants and warehouses that are just wasting away. It is sad to see how quickly these buildings can go into disrepair. It will be huge asset if we can find uses for all of these buildings.
Last month, Greenville got an encouraging report on the state of manufacturing in the area. The US Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration’s report listed the Greenville area as the 25th largest export market in the United States. We had exports of $11.7 billion. That compares with Charleston, SC at $2.3 billion dollars. This seems to affirm the feeling that Greenville is currently seeing a large influx of manufacturing companies moving into the area currently and in the near future. If you follow the GADC (Greenville Area Development Corporation) you will see that it seems weekly they are making an announcement of a large manufacturing plant or company moving into the area. Drawing companies to your area is a highly competitive business and Greenville seems to be more than holding its own. For it to be 25th in the nation, really says something.
Looking closer the area we are speaking of is Greenville, Mauldin, and Easley. This shows an increase of 34% between 2010 and 2011.
The reason that these manufacturing jobs are so important is that the jobs supported by exports are often better paying jobs than others, often by as much as 18%. Our fear during the downturn was that if we could replace the jobs we lost they would be at a lesser scale. Hopefully, with the resurgence in manufacturing in the area, we will also see the local household income rebound.
It is interesting to see where our exports are going: Germany, Canada, China, Mexico, and the United Kingdom. We have to remember when we see the companies on the labels of the products that they are also the companies who buy our products. The people who shout about closing our borders and only buying America, may want to take a step back and rethink their position.