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S.C. leaders back Wal-Mart initiative to renew U.S. manufacturing

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A Wal-Mart initiative to renew growth in U.S. manufacturing jobs has the support of South Carolina political and business leaders, who’ve noted the retailer’s success in working with companies to locate their operations in the Palmetto State.

The initiative, “Policy Roadmap to Renew U.S. Manufacturing,” proposes 10 actions to address major barriers to U.S. manufacturing growth. If adopted, the initiative could help recapture an estimated $300 billion in production of consumer goods, and create an estimated 1.5 million U.S. jobs, Wal-Mart said in a press release. The roadmap also builds on a 2013 Wal-Mart commitment to source an additional $250 billion in products supporting American jobs.

 A box containing a 40-inch TV rolls off the assembly line at Element Electronic's assembly plant in Winnsboro. The manufacturer, which plans to grow its workforce to 500 employees, launched its S.C. operation in 2013 with the help of the Wal-Mart initiative. (Photo/Chuck Crumbo)“The good news is we’ve also learned how to overcome the challenges and, because of our experience, Wal-Mart is uniquely positioned to help facilitate broad engagement in accelerating the expansion of U.S. manufacturing as well as case studies of successful collaboration among key stakeholders,” Cindi Marsiglio, Wal-Mart vice president for U.S. sourcing and manufacturing, said in a statement.

According to an analysis by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), decreasing policy barriers to domestic manufacturing creates an opportunity to recapture approximately $300 billion in consumer goods that are currently imported, including furniture, cookware, and sporting goods, potentially resulting in the creation of an estimated 1.5 million American jobs, the release said. 

South Carolina is home to a handful of suppliers that are part of the company’s push to source U.S.-made product. Those firms and locations are:

  • Element Electronics, Winnsboro, a TV assembly plant, 500 jobs;
  • Kent International, Manning, a bicycle assembly plant, 175 jobs;
  • Singapore-based Giti Tire, which this fall will open a new 1 million-square-foot tire plant in Chester County, 1,700 jobs.

 “Wal-Mart is leading an important collaboration to eliminate the barriers to creating more American manufacturing jobs,” said Ted Pitts, president and CEO of the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce.  “We believe it’s critical for our economy to unite across industry sectors, small and large business, and government to take action and renew U.S. manufacturing, one state or community at a time.”

Added Gov. Henry McMaster: “Wal-Mart’s efforts to bring manufacturing jobs back to America are well known and have directly benefited South Carolinians. We will proudly partner with Wal-Mart as they continue this important work.”

The roadmap identifies the highest impact policy barriers as (1) workforce, (2) coordination and financing, (3) regulation, and (4) tax and trade and proposes specific policies that have the potential to effectively accelerate and grow U.S. manufacturing.

Last month, Wal-Mart CEO Doug McMillon signaled the Bentonville, Ark.-based company’s intention to pursue policy proposals that help create a favorable climate for job creation in his remarks to more than 500 small- and medium-sized companies that attended the retailer’s fourth annual Open Call for U.S. products on June 28.

“We are also committed to participating as a leader in the country when it comes to policy,” McMillon said. “We believe that we should be one of the voices at the table and we want to help renew U.S. manufacturing and drive the creation of manufacturing jobs across the United States.”

According to data from its suppliers, approximately two-thirds of Wal-Mart U.S. merchandise spending is for items that are made, assembled, sourced, or grown in the U.S. In 2013, Wal-Mart committed to sourcing an additional $250 billion over ten years on products that support American jobs.

“South Carolina has seen first-hand what good manufacturing jobs can do for our economy and regions across the state,” said Lindsey Kueffner, executive director of the South Carolina Retail Association. “We’re delighted to see Wal-Mart take the lead on the challenging issue of how to revitalize American manufacturing jobs. It will take all of us working together to eliminate the barriers that are keeping these good jobs from growing in communities across our state and country.”

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