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The States Leading the U.S. Manufacturing Resurgence

Exhibiting know-how and innovation, U.S. manufacturers are adding to their payrolls and economic growth across the nation. We have identified 19 states where manufacturing is leading the way...

Q1 / Winter 2013
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California is a national leader in job creation, with over 257,000 private-sector jobs created in 2012. Its private-sector growth rate of 2.2 percent is outpacing the national average, and its unemployment rate of 9.8 percent is the lowest it has been in almost four years — due in part to the resurgence of manufacturing in the state. More than 1.2 million people are employed in manufacturing jobs, the most in the nation, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) notes that manufacturers in California account for 11.2 percent of the total GSP (2011), employing almost 9 percent of the work force. Total overall output from manufacturing was $229.9 billion in 2011, significantly higher than in any other state. Nearly $138 billion of that output was exported — an important figure because more than 22 percent of California’s manufacturing employment depends on exports.

Energy has always been a key industry for the California economy — not only traditional resources like oil and gas, but also alternative energies such as biofuel, wind, and solar. In December 2012 Soitec, an international manufacturer of semiconductor materials and photovoltaic systems, opened its $150 million, state-of-the-art North American solar manufacturing facility in San Diego. Beginning in 2009, the California government worked with Soitec to establish its San Diego facility.

“This project demonstrates the long-term commitment of our state and local partners to ensure Soitec opened their first U.S. manufacturing facility in California,” says Director of the California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development Kish Rajan. “Not only will Soitec employ 450 Californians, it is contributing to the state’s goal of increasing our renewable energy portfolio.”

Illinois is a major producer of chemicals, machinery, computers and electronics, rubber and plastic products, and fabricated metals. Manufacturing totaled more than $86.5 billion in output in 2011 and employed nearly 600,000 workers as of November 2012.

“We have experienced significant growth in manufacturing in recent years, which has created tremendous opportunities for growing our economy and creating more jobs,” says Adam Pollet, acting director for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

Top manufacturers in the state include Caterpillar, Deere & Company, Motorola, Navistar, Chrysler/Fiat, Ford, and Mitsubishi. Newer advanced manufacturing sectors such as aerospace and pharmaceuticals are also becoming established.

Recent project announcements include Continental Tire ($224 million expansion in Mt. Vernon), Mitsubishi Motors ($45 million expansion in Normal to support the production of the 2013 Mitsubishi Outlander SUV), Excel Foundry and Machine ($7.4 million expansion, 100 jobs in Pekin), and Woodward Inc., an aerospace and energy firm that plans to invest more than $200 million to build a manufacturing plant and offices in Loves Park near Rockford. (Woodward selected Illinois over South Carolina and Wisconsin.)

“The Rockford region’s highly skilled work force makes Illinois an ideal place for companies like Woodward that are looking to grow,” indicates Illinois Governor Pat Quinn. “Woodward’s expansion is a great example of how we are creating jobs, fueling key sectors of the economy, and stimulating growth throughout the state.”

Indiana combines traditional production with progressive technology to create an attractive environment for manufacturers. The state’s central location and excellent transportation network — combined with a skilled and dedicated work force — make it an ideal location for manufacturing. Top manufacturing sectors include automotive, parts and transportation equipment, metals, machinery, plastics and rubber, chemicals, and computers and electronics.

Nearly 17 percent of the Indiana non-farm work force is employed in manufacturing (the most of any state according to BLS statistics for November 2012). Manufacturing employment grew 4.2 percent from October 2011 to October 2012, more than double the national average of 1.6 percent. Since 2010, Indiana has added the third-most manufacturing jobs of any state in the country — an impressive 9 percent growth rate.

One of Indiana’s most dynamic manufacturing sectors is automotive. More than 11 percent of all automobiles produced in the United States are made in Indiana, which is home to more than 630 automotive companies. Three Japanese automotive companies have facilities in the state, which also has the highest level of Japanese investment per capita in the country. Automotive announcements keep coming in — for example, Honda ($40 million expansion), Toyota Motor Manufacturing ($131 million), and Greenville Technology ($21.37 million plant, 325 new jobs in Anderson).

Indiana’s low-tax policies and highly skilled work force have made it one of the premier manufacturing states in the country,” states Indiana Secretary of Commerce Victor Smith. “The predictable regulatory environment, and our willingness to work collaboratively with the private sector, continues to reinforce Indiana’s strength and stability for business.”

Iowa’s $27.6 billion advanced manufacturing industry is the state’s largest single business sector — with more than 6,000 manufacturers operating 6,400 factories, employing 200,000 workers, and generating more than 18 percent of Iowa’s total gross state product (GSP) in 2011, according to NAM. During the past decade Iowa’s manufacturing GSP has grown at an impressive inflation-adjusted rate of 9.2 percent.

Leading industries include industrial metal processing, automation precision machinery, environment control systems, digital and electronic devices, and power generation equipment. Other top sectors are aerospace and defense, industrial chemicals, construction components, commercial and industrial motor vehicles, food ingredients, printing and packaging, pharmaceuticals, and medical devices and products.

“Iowa’s economy is very strong, thanks in large part to the success of the advanced manufacturing industry in our state,” says Debi Durham, director of the Iowa Department of Economic Development. “It’s obvious that we have the right tools in place to attract and grow manufacturing companies. From our logistics advantages to our highly productive work force, Iowa has a proven track record in helping manufacturers succeed.”

That includes Egypt-based Orascom Construction Industries, which recently announced its decision to build a new $1.4 billion facility in Lee County, which will reduce the nation’s dependence on imported fertilizers (the U.S. imports over half of the ammonia, urea, and urea ammonium nitrate [UAN] it consumes every year). It will be the first world-scale natural-gas-based fertilizer plant built in the United States in nearly 25 years. The plant will utilize proven state-of-the-art production process technologies and is expected to produce over a million tons of ammonia, urea, and UAN annually. State incentives for the project totaled about $100 million.


Total Kansas GSP in 2011 was $130.9 billion. Manufacturing accounted for more than $18.4 billion of that, or about 14 percent. As of November 2012, 167,000 workers were employed in manufacturing in the state — more than 12 percent of the state’s non-farm work force.

Advanced manufacturing is a major factor in the Kansas economy — especially aviation and aerospace. For example, Wichita manufacturers produce more than 40 percent of the world’s general aviation aircraft. Major aircraft companies with Kansas operations include Hawker Beechcraft, Cessna, Spirit Aerosystems, and Bombardier Learjet. Nearly 60 percent of the state’s manufacturing work force is employed in this vital sector. General Motors, which manufactures Chevrolet and Buick in the Kansas City area, is another key employer.

Bioscience is a rapidly growing field in Kansas, including an “animal health corridor” that runs through central Kansas. Here major companies and research centers conduct cutting-edge research and innovation on new products for animal health and nutrition. This corridor accounts for almost one third of total world sales in the $19 billion global animal health market. Currently more than 16,000 employees work in the biosciences. The Kansas Bioscience Authority is investing $580 million to further support R&D and commercialization opportunities in this field and accelerate cluster growth.

“Manufacturing is a critical component of the Kansas economy,” indicates Kansas Commerce Secretary Pat George. “The state is fortunate to have everything from advanced aviation to meat packing represented in the sector. We’re going to keep working to make the Kansas business environment as great as it can be for manufacturers.”

Next: Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi and New York
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