Andy Grove, former Intel chairman, on the importance of American manufacturing
During an insightful interview with MIT’s Technology Review, Andy Grove, the former chairman of Intel, discussed the importance of American manufacturing—and why we can’t afford to become a nation that doesn’t make things.
Having experienced the manufacturing industry from the perspective of both the factory floor and the boardroom, Grove understands the financial risks associated with keeping production in America, but argues that the bigger risks are the consequences that a depleted industrial base will have for our nation.
Grove contends that when we offshore manufacturing, we’re also offshoring innovation. Domestic manufacturing allows innovators to more easily “sale their ideas into products,” as is evident in the influx of new solar technologies emerging from China, where the majority of solar manufacturing now takes place.
Part of the problem with American manufacturing, argues Grove, is that we’re engaged in a dangerous self-fulfilling prophecy:
The received wisdom is that "everybody knows manufacturing in the U.S. is dead." If you believe those things and act on them, they're going to be true. I think venture investments are influenced by the "everybody knows" factor before the first spreadsheet is run. And if you don't get the money to scale manufacturing here, you won't do it. And if you don't do it, your suppliers won't move to the United States either
In order to break out of this cycle, Grove believes that there must be a concerted effort on the part of the U.S. government to nurture and grow our manufacturing base, and that this needs to happen sooner rather than later:
“I think for every example where companies, states, cities, governmental agencies do well on [the manufacturing] issue, our government should find ways of drumming it into the consciousness of people who are considering building a plant or who are ready to enter a career which is not manufacturing-based. It is probably best to look at this as a major brand campaign.”
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