Transforming manufacturing – through buy local

Here is an interesting story in today’s New York Times — The Future of Manufacturing is Local. The story cites two example of grassroots organizations that promote “buy local manufacturing”: SFMade and Made in NYC. In the case of SFMade, their services go beyond promotion to include services (similar to an MEP) including their Manufacturing 411 resource and referral service and their Manufacturer’s Accelerator intensive business advisory service.
I have often said that manufacturing is becoming more knowledge intensive. But it is not just becoming more knowledge intensive in the technical and production sense — i.e. higher knowledge content in the produces and processes. It is becoming more knowledge intensive in it marketing and strategy through customization of the goods and services. It is unclear the extent to which these “make local” promotion activities will help the companies customize their output more to fit specific local needs. The story does not touch on that part of the issue. But that is clearly an implicit goal of the “buy locally” part of these programs.
So, what are the government programs needed to help these types of initiatives? And how to we help boost them to the next level? Such programs need to go beyond “buy locally because it is the right thing to do” to “buy locally because we make it specifically for you and we do it better than anyone else.” This is the marriage of “buy local” with “jurisdictional advantage.” Once they can make that jump to local customization, then we will see the transformation and revitalization of manufacturing for the 21st Century.

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