The push by Wal-Mart Stores to return manufacturing to the U.S. has gathered more momentum with the global retailer announcing Thursday (Oct. 31) that three companies will support manufacturing operations in Georgia, South Carolina and Pennsylvania.
Wal-Mart officials announced on Jan. 15, 2013, a pledge to purchase in the next 10 years an additional $50 billion in U.S.-made goods. Company officials have said they hope to boost U.S. manufacturing – often referred to as “onshoring” – by purchasing more sporting goods, apparel basics, storage products, paper products, textiles, furniture and higher-end appliances.
Bentonville-based Wal-Mart sponsored the “U.S. Manufacturing Summit” in Orlando, Fla., that was held Aug. 22-23. The event connected economic development officials from 34 states with about 500 Wal-Mart suppliers and retail vendors.
Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe was one of eight state governors to attend. The effort has already produced one success for Arkansas. Redman & Associates announced Oct. 7 a $6.5 million investment to relocate its ride-on toy manufacturing business from Shanghai to Northwest Arkansas over the next three years.
The announcement Thursday was held at the SelectUSA 2013 Investment Summit with Walmart U.S. President and CEO Bill Simon joining U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker to discuss the manufacturing moves to the U.S.
More than 1,200 attendees from nearly 60 countries around the world attended the SelectUSA event held in Washington, D.C., and coordinated by the U.S. Department of Commerce.
According to a statement from Wal-Mart, Elan-Polo, Louis Hornick & Company and EveryWare Global will produce footwear, curtains and glassware, respectively. The three suppliers will create a combined 385 jobs with the new manufacturing operations.
"Today's announcement is a great example of the progress that's being made, and it highlights opportunities that exist for manufacturers to invest in the USA by re-shoring or expanding their manufacturing in America," Simon said in the statement. "Companies, government officials and industry leaders are working together to increase manufacturing, and these efforts are helping more Americans get into good-paying jobs and more businesses reinvest in the U.S. economy."
The statement provided the following details about the three companies.
• Elan-Polo, a global footwear and 35-year Walmart supplier, will start production of injection-molded footwear in March 2014 at a factory in Hazelhurst, Ga., as part of a joint venture with McPherson Manufacturing. Once at full capacity, this new facility will create 250 jobs and produce 20,000 pairs of shoes per day. Previously, the company manufactured the shoes overseas.
• EveryWare Global manufactures bakeware, beverageware, tabletop and household glassware. The company will produce Mainstays Canning Jars for Walmart in its Monaca, Pa., facility. The company is investing $1.8 million to expand factory capacity and establish a new product line made in the U.S. The agreement will create new manufacturing jobs in the Monaca facility. Founded in 1905, Anchor Hocking, an EveryWare Global brand, has been supplying products to Walmart for over 25 years and has 1,811 employees in the United States.
• Louis Hornick & Company makes window coverings and home textiles. The company will invest $2.5 million to establish a new manufacturing facility in Allendale County, S.C. The investment is expected to create 125 new jobs over the next three years. The company has been supplying Walmart for 40 years.
Wal-Mart said in the statement that as a result of their onshoring effort “manufacturers have committed to create more than 1,600 jobs and invest more than $100 million in industries that include socks, televisions, light bulbs and hardware. Factoring in today's announcement, more than 600 of those job commitments have been announced since Walmart's U.S. Manufacturing Summit.”
In addition to the Redman move to Rogers, the new operations include:
• Tailor Made Products, a kitchen utensil manufacturer, is making a $2 million investment that will add 12 new manufacturing jobs in Wisconsin.
• Korona Candles will invest $18.5 million that will generate 170 jobs in Virginia to produce Mainstays Tealight Candles.
It will take many more announcements to boost the U.S. and Arkansas manufacturing sectors.
Historically, U.S. manufacturing sector employment has ranged between 19 million and 17 million. It reached a high of 19.553 million jobs in June 1979. Sector employment has been stuck below 12 million since May 2009. Prior to May 2009, the last time sector employment was below 12 million was May 1941. The sector employed an estimated 11.963 million as of September, up slightly over the 11.925 million in September 2012.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated there were 154,700 manufacturing jobs in Arkansas during August 2013. Employment in the sector is down 24.2% compared to August 2003, and is down more than 37% compared to the sector high of 247,300 set in February 1995.