For those in an industry that has been dominated by negative offshoring tones over the last decade, news of foreign companies investing in American manufacturing might be surprising. And those who have heard might not know it’s more than just Walmart and Foxconn. What other big names have invested in American manufacturing, where are their businesses, and how are their moves impacting the country?
In the heart of the American south, more than 24 companies from nearly as many countries are investing in manufacturing in Chattanooga, hiring 136,000 employees at 931 Tennessee businesses. In fact, foreign companies employ more Tennesseans than those from any other U.S. state. Companies like German vehicle producer Volkswagen, Indian tractor maker Mahindra, and Spanish automotive component manufacturer Gestamp have joined the lineup. Even Chattanooga’s mayor is invested in strong relationships with foreign manufacturers and plans to represent his city on a trip to Japan, during which he hopes to convince additional manufacturers to invest in Tennessee.
And, while many of these products aren’t truly “Made in America” as parts are manufactured and products assembled in foreign countries and domestically, their impact on American manufacturers is undeniable. In Tennessee, unemployment is down to 3.6%. And many companies aren’t just investing in manufacturing — they’re also investing in the future generation of manufacturers with high school and community college programs for training, internships, and apprenticeships. As more companies continue to invest in the state and the area, they’re likely to boost local, state, and the country’s economy as well.
Toyota and Mazda
Another announcement in early August by foreign companies bringing manufacturing to the U.S. came from internationally known automakers Toyota and Mazda. Although they haven’t selected a location, the two are working in tandem to bring vehicle assembly to America. This means a $1.6 billion-dollar plant that could bring 4,000 jobs to U.S. shores. The companies are looking to 2021 as the rollout date for the first vehicle, which would bring a $10 billion investment to the U.S. over a half decade.
Tianyan and Sun Paper
After an October 2016 commitment to open a clothing-producing firm in Arkansas, Tianyuan Garments Co. is expected to begin production later this year. It was the second Chinese company to make such an announcement with Sun Paper heralding its future mill opening in South Arkansas in April 2016. Together, the companies expect to add 650 jobs and over $1.02 billion in plant construction and renovation.
These and many more foreign firms are investing in U.S. manufacturing as two-thirds of American manufacturing jobs created between 2010 and 2014 were results of direct foreign investment. That meant a consistent upward trend over the last decades, leading to $3.7 trillion in foreign investment in 2016. If the trend continues, Americans are likely to see more manufacturing opportunities — and more U.S. hands in production — in the coming years.