Economist Paul Krugman recently wrote for the New York Times about the recent growth and success of the manufacturing sector in the United States. He calls manufacturing “one of the bright spots of a generally disappointing recovery.”
It’s fantastic news that American manufacturing is being reinvigorated. In a response to Krugman’s piece, New Deal 2.0 gave six reasons why manufacturing is still important. I won’t list them all here, but having a lively manufacturing sector creates good jobs and is the foundation of a strong economy. Krugman mentions Caterpillar and General Motors as examples of strong American manufacturers. These companies contribute a lot to the economy and their communities, but it’s not just the household names that make up the manufacturing sector. We should also remember the smaller and urban manufacturers “hidden in plain sight.” According to a report by the Pratt Center and Brookings Institution on small urban manufacturers, the large and vertically-integrated companies of the past are being replaced by smaller “webs of production and distribution.” Some provide components and parts to other manufacturers, some produce custom or niche products, others produce artisanal foods or beverages. Urban environments are perfect for these types of firms – the businesses win by locating in the middle of both a large potential workforce and large market for their products, and the community receives the benefits of a stronger local economy. This is a true win-win situation.
Paul Krugman and others have written about the manufacturing sector making a comeback. But what has come back is not the manufacturing sector of the 20th century. Manufacturing can not only be reinvigorated, but reinvented. This means bringing manufacturers back from the suburban industrial parks and into our cities.
Are you an urban manufacturer? Do you know a company who makes products in the city? We’re looking for your favorite downtown manufacturer. Please fill out our form to let us know about these companies so that Urban Made can feature them on this website. Thank you!