Illinois Reshoring Initiative Hosts Launch Conference

The Illinois Reshoring Initiative, an industry-led program formed in 2010, wants to do more than merely stem the tide of jobs lost to overseas manufacturing—the organization is working to help restore (or “reshore”) lost jobs to the U.S. The Initiative outlined its objectives at a conference on March 16, 2011.

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As the U.S. economy struggles toward recovery, an increase in available manufacturing jobs could play a vital role in spurring growth. The Illinois Reshoring Initiative, an industry-led program formed in 2010, wants to do more than merely stem the tide of jobs lost to overseas manufacturing—the organization is working to help restore (or “reshore”) lost jobs to the U.S. The Initiative outlined its objectives at a conference on March 16, 2011.

“If implemented, the Illinois Reshoring Initiative could create 300,000 manufacturing jobs in Illinois alone over the next five years,” estimated Rand Haas, president of Medusa Consulting Group, Inc., a Medinah, IL-based consulting firm cosponsoring the event. His opening remarks set the tone for a program geared toward “leveling the playing field” against unfair offshoring practices by creating a strong business case for returning jobs to the U.S.  

More than 60 people attended the event, which was held at Harper College, Palatine, Illinois, in the heart of Northern Illinois’ “Golden Corridor” of economic development. Attendees included representatives from manufacturing companies and their suppliers, the trade media, educators and industry consultants.  

Perez Outlines Government Strategy
The keynote speaker was Peter Perez, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing, U.S. Department of Commerce International Trade Administration. A 43-year veteran of the manufacturing sector and former president of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), Perez discussed his department’s efforts under both the Bush and Obama administrations to bolster the manufacturing sector. “I’m not a Democrat, and I’m not a Republican,” said Perez, “I’m a manufacturer.” 

In 2008 passage of the Economic Stimulus Package helped shore up manufacturing, in 2010 the manufacturing sector showed its first steady growth since 1997, and the current administration is committed to supporting continued growth, Perez reported. A main focus will be on increasing U.S. exports. Boosting manufacturing jobs will be critical to reach the administration’s export goals. According to Perez, it is vital that local manufacturers rethink their offshoring and reshoring strategies. “We’re on the right track,” he told conference attendees. “This reshoring effort will contribute to the growth in exports.”


Determining the ‘True Costs’ of Job Offshoring
Speaker Harry Moser, Founder of the Reshoring Initiative and former President of GF AgieCharmilles, outlined the Initiative’s objectives.  “We need to change the mindset of manufacturers. Replace the old ways of thinking that ‘offshoring is always cheaper’ with a new model that says ‘localizing jobs can reduce costs,’” Moser explained. “We need to retrain customers and suppliers.”

A central part of the Reshoring Initiative’s strategy is the dissemination of a proprietary software tool, the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) Estimator, which includes a comprehensive range of cost factors, including many that are usually overlooked by manufacturers when calculating costs associated with moving manufacturing jobs overseas. Every attendee at the March 16th event received a free copy of the TCO Estimator software.

Moser explained that manufacturing companies often base their decisions on incomplete or incorrect data.The TCO Estimator provides a much more accurate assessment of the true cost of offshoring. “Reshoring is the fastest, most efficient way to strengthen the U.S. economy. It is not just a new way to cut the pie, it’s about making the pie bigger,” Moser said.

Moser also announced the launch of a new website, www.offshoreripoffs.com, to help companies track unfair or unscrupulous practices related to the offshoring of manufacturing jobs. The site’s blog will allow manufacturers to post and share experiences “so that companies in Illinois know what’s happening in Iowa or around the country,” Moser said.

A panel discussion following Moser’s remarks included representatives from four manufacturing companies that chose to move jobs back to the U.S. after using the TCO Estimator to determine the cost benefits of reshoring. Bruce Braker, Director of the Chicago Manufacturing Renaissance Council, served as moderator. “Globalization is an unstoppable force,” said Braker. “This (Reshoring Initiative) helps companies be a part of that.”

Moderator: Bruce Braker, Director, Chicago Manufacturing Renaissance Council

Panelists:

Mike Johnston, Director of Business Development, Illinois Manufacturing Extension Center

Allan R. Thom, Executive Vice President, MacNeil Automotive Products Limited

Jim Wrenn, President, Hudson Precision Products

Warren Young, President, Acme Industries


Future Activities Planned

The March 16th event in Palatine was the first in the Illinois Reshoring Initiative’s five-step program. Future events throughout Illinois will focus on supply chain managers, suppliers and customers; and, will be designed to increase awareness and improve communication about the benefits of reshoring. In addition to making the TCO Estimator software available to manufacturers, the Initiative is compiling an online library of articles and reports about reshoring, and plans to foster regional initiatives to help “spread the word” about job reshoring and the tools available to determine its benefits.

Learn more about the Illinois Reshoring Initiative at www.reshorenow.org, or contact Harry Moser at (847) 726-2975 or via e-mail at harry.moser@comcast.net.