Top U.S. manufacturers returning jobs back to states from China

By Lou Kilzer

Published: Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

American corporations that off-shored manufacturing to China for two decades are bringing jobs home.

A decade ago, jobs were on a nearly one-way street to the People’s Republic. In 2003, when 150,000 manufacturing jobs went to China, 2,000 came this way, says Harry Moser, head of the Reshoring Initiative, a nonprofit group that tracks U.S.-China job flows.

Today “it’s a wash,” Moser told the Tribune-Review. Last year, 30,000 to 50,000 jobs left the United States for China, but 30,000 to 40,000 left China for the United States, according to an analysis of hiring by Apple, Motorola, General Electric, Ford and more than 140 other American-based companies.

A survey by Boston Consulting Group showed this trend is poised to accelerate. More than 50 percent of $1 billion-plus U.S. companies with operations in China are considering bringing all or part of their production to American shores, the consulting group reports.

Twenty-one percent told surveyors that they are doing so or plan to do so within two years. The 2013 figure is double that of 2012, the group noted.

Jerry Jasinowski, former president of the National Association of Manufacturers, cites as reasons: high Chinese energy prices, escalating wages, land prices, lack of protection for intellectual property, and air pollution.

It’s difficult to recruit managers willing to relocate families to Shanghai or another city where pollution levels are considered a serious health threat, he said.

Greg Hall, a senior vice president of Wal-Mart, told Site Selection magazine that the economics of manufacturing are changing rapidly: “In previous decades, investment mainly went to Asia where wages were low. The price of oil was low. … (Today) labor costs in Asia are rising. Oil and transportation costs are high and increasingly uncertain.”

Wal-Mart plans to shift at least $50 billion in manufacturing to the United States.

At the same time, a movement in China is impacting reshoring to America, Jasinowski said. Educated and wealthy Chinese increasingly want to move their families and money elsewhere.

About 30 percent of wealthy Chinese have moved some assets offshore, according to a 2013 survey by Boston-based Bain & Co. Among the high-net-worth Chinese without overseas investment, Bain found that more than half plan such investment. Only one in 10 said they did not plan to migrate assets out of China.

The Huron Report, which has tracked ultra-wealthy Chinese for more than a decade, reports that 16 percent of Chinese millionaires have moved or applied for visas to move out of the country. Forty-four percent are considering doing so.

Moser said he reviewed the Bain report and has told others: “The Chinese are taking their money out. Why should you (American companies) be putting money in?”

The change in job direction is not simple, however. Over the years, China acquired manufacturing from so many firms — and its domestic partners acquired so much foreign technology — that it developed essential supply lines. Just as American auto manufacturers remained competitive in part because domestic supply partners are strong, industries that relocated to China have long Chinese supply chains.

During the past three years, the Trib has chronicled how China leveraged its control over the mining and processing of rare-earth elements to lure manufacturing.

Paul Gillis, a professor at Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management in Beijing, said, “Parts and supplies can be hard to find in the U.S. While China has lost its labor cost advantage, it is a lot harder than some think to just pull up stakes and move the factory to Pittsburgh.”

Don’t expect a publicity campaign by any company planning to pull up Chinese stakes and move to the United States, experts warn.

“Manufacturers don’t like to call it ‘reshoring’ or ‘onshoring,’ ” said Paul Cicio, president of Industrial Energy Consumers of America, a Washington manufacturing lobby. “They’re sensitive. They don’t want to tick the Chinese off” because China represents the largest market in the world.

If Wall Street banks are a barometer for the change in economic outlook, they appear to have made their bets. This year Goldman Sachs finished selling its stock in the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the world’s largest bank, ending a relationship begun in 2006.

In September, Bank of America cut ties with China Construction Bank Corp. with a sale of $1.5 billion in stock. It acquired 9.9 percent of the bank in 2005. In December, HSBC dumped its final shares in the Bank of Shanghai.

Although the reasons for the breakups are varied, banking experts say the underlying reason is uncertainty about bad debts owed to banks in China.

Lou Kilzer is a staff writerfor Trib Total Media.

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Maker’s Row and Cotton Incorporated Partner to Bring Back “Made in USA”

Affiliation provides education and business development opportunities to cotton associated industries

NEW YORK, Jan. 6, 2014 /PRNewswire-iReach/ — Maker’s Row and Cotton Incorporated have announced their partnership that aims to further educate and connect textile brands with U.S. cotton suppliers and manufacturers. Through the efforts of their partnership, Maker’s Row, an online platform providing product-based businesses direct access to domestic manufacturers, and Cotton Incorporated, the research and marketing company representing America’s cotton producers and importers, will be able to reach and inform a far larger, more diverse audience on the cotton production process and associated benefits with domestic sourcing.

“The partnership with Cotton Incorporated was a natural choice. This partnership provides brands with a deeper understanding of one of the principal materials used in apparel today. With that understanding, brands have a greater opportunity to push the boundaries of their own products with our manufacturers on Maker’s Row.” said Matthew Burnett, CEO, Maker’s Row.

To steward their efforts, Maker’s Row and Cotton Incorporated have created a video titled, American Cotton Part 1, designed to assist businesses in the understanding of cotton production as it moves through the supply chain. By revealing the production process, businesses–from first-time entrepreneurs to big brands–are now able to make more informed decisions which will ultimately curate a better product.

“There are more than 70 cotton producing countries in the world and the United States is the third largest. And in the United States, we have more than 10,000 cotton farmers committed to high standards of cotton production. That starts at the farm and continues all the way through the grading and classing systems that exists for every pound and every bale of US cotton.” - Mark Messura, Senior Vice President, Cotton Incorporated.

“This is such a great collaboration and we are very excited to finally launch the campaign.  What we loved about the Maker’s Row team is their passion and enthusiasm for American manufacturing coupled with the fact that they are great storytellers through their video documentaries. We have a great story to tell about U.S. cotton and you will see fromAmerican Cotton Part 1how passionate the cotton farmers are about their crop and the many things the U.S. cotton industry is doing to produce the most responsible and traceable cotton in the world.  Everyone who sees this campaign should feel good about using American cotton as an ingredient in the products they create or source.” – David Earley, Sr. Director, Supply Chain Marketing, Cotton Incorporated.

Maker’s Row has also launched a page (makersrow.com/cottoninc) which features over twenty domestic cotton mills and suppliers of cotton-based materials that all comply with Cotton Incorporated’s stringent quality and responsibly-produced cotton requirements. The added platform will generate a larger community for businesses to discover and communicate with cotton-based suppliers and manufacturers across the United States.

Maker’s Row

Maker’s Row (makersrow.com) is an online marketplace that connects American manufacturers with  product-based businesses. Their mission is to make U.S. manufacturers universally accessible, and the production process simple to understand. Maker’s Row has created a community of makers, entrepreneurs, designers and businesses that are collectively coming together to bring back American manufacturing.

Cotton Incorporated

Cotton Incorporated (cottoninc.com), funded by U.S. growers of upland cotton and importers of cotton and cotton textile products, is the research and marketing company representing upland cotton. The program is designed and operated to improve the demand for and profitability of cotton.

For more information on the Maker’s Row and Cotton Incorporated partnership, or more information on Maker’s Row, please contact Matthew Burnett, CEO, Maker’s Row.

Media Contact: Matthew Burnett, Maker’s Row, 347-860-9333, matthew@makersrow.com

News distributed by PR Newswire iReach: https://ireach.prnewswire.com

SOURCE Maker’s Row, Inc.

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Federal government spends $1.5 billion on foreign-made products

By Rob Groce, December 31, 2013

While unemployment remains high in the U.S., especially in the manufacturing industry, the federal government spends $1.5 billion annually on foreign-produced goods.

::::::::

In 2012 the American public objected after learning that U.S. Olympic team uniforms — from hats to shoes and all worn in between — were made in China. For athletes who represented the country to wear clothing made in another country was, well, un-American.

A new report by New York Times’ Ian Urbina, though, finds even more unpatriotic purchases: the U.S. government spends $1.5 billion annually on items made overseas.

Uniforms for federal firefighters and law enforcement, souvenir clothing sold by the Smithsonian and others items carrying military logos, and even uniforms worn by particular military units are made at factories in Southeast Asia, Central America, and the Caribbean.

And even though some laws and policies still exist to deter such outsourcing, it seems that few in charge of the relevant purchasing departments know much about it, and don’t seem to care, either.

According to the article:

“Federal agencies rarely know what factories make their clothes, much less require audits of them, according to interviews with procurement officials and industry experts. The agencies, they added, exert less oversight of foreign suppliers than many retailers do.”

And not only do these U.S. government offices not care if their goods are made outside the U.S., but they also don’t seem to care about the unfair — even dangerous – conditions in which those products are made.

“(T)here is no law prohibiting the federal government from buying clothes produced overseas under unsafe or abusive conditions.”

Attempts to at least ensure that the products purchased are safely made have been fruitless, too, and due to apparent profit-oriented selfishness.

“Labor and State Department officials have encouraged retailers to participate in strengthening rules on factory conditions in Bangladesh — home to one of the largest and most dangerous garment industries. But defense officials this month helped kill a legislative measure that would have required military stores, which last year made more than $485 million in profit, to comply with such rules because they said the $500,000 annual cost was too expensive.”

That the Dept. of Defense insists on overlooking life-protecting safety to preserve only one percent in profit doesn’t uphold its stated mission of security and protection, it seems.

Foreign facilities aren’t unsafe to their workers alone, though. They’re dangerous for Americans, with high rates of product recall due to safety violations.

Perhaps worse, they’re also a danger to the U.S. economy.  Losing over 2 million jobs during the 2007-2009 recession, unemployment in manufacturing remained as high as 13 percent through early 2010, months after the recession was declared over, and is still at a 6.2 percent level in the last-reported period of November 2013.

The 6.8 percent difference isn’t complete regain, either. Many of those jobs were eliminated, and the workers had to find employment in other industries.

Continuing economic damage to the U.S., those new jobs are paying workers less than they previously earned. While unemployment has notably declined, today’s wages are 6.1 percent less than national average income before the 2007-2009 recession began.

Manufacturing was once the dominant industry in the U.S., employing 19.5 million in 1979. Since then, over a third of those jobs have been lost to overseas facilities, though; only 12 million Americans currently work in this industry.

Through the last century, many laws were created to protect U.S. businesses and employment, including three Buy-American Acts that pertained to general and specific product fields.

The first one from 1933 was updated eight years later with the Berry Amendment, which specified that the Dept. of Defense could only purchase uniforms and food items (with other products later added) that are made by American companies throughout all phases of production.

In recent years, though, the federal government has sought continuous loopholes to these job-protecting measures. In 2001, for example, Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) introduced a bill that would exclude particular clothing items from the Berry Amendment; it passed later that year.  Fasteners were eliminated from inclusion by the Dept. of Defense in 2007, and in 2008 Congress removed many other metal items and even general off-the-shelf products from the list, too.

The American public is greatly aware of the impacts of job loss to foreign countries; 86 percent agree that U.S. companies are outsourcing jobs simply for lower wages, 95 percent agree that this practice has contributed to unemployment in the United States, and 90 percent think the primary method for economic recovery would be regulations to “keep jobs in America.”

Before they can attempt to correct this in the role of conscious consumers, however, the public will need to return to gainful employment with proper wages.

And to reach that first step, the U.S. government should stop spending its money on foreign-made goods.
Submitters Website: http://www.rob-servations.com/robs-blog.html

Submitters Bio:

A progressive political insider (and meddler) in the red state of South Carolina, Rob Groce operates his own blog, ROBservations (www.rob-servations.com/robs-blog.html).

Wool renaissance in Fosston; New wool mill will be second largest in U.S.

Original Post by: Ryan Bakken - Forum News Service 12/29/13

Stephenie Ande rson, the owner of Northern Woolen Mills in Fosston inspects some of the yarn her new processing plant is turning out. When at full capacity in about two weeks Northern Woolen Mills will produce 100 pounds of yarn a day.JOHN STENNES | Forum News Service

 

 FOSSTON — Stephenie Anderson’s timing for starting a wool-processing plant in Fosston is spot-on.

So says Bill Batchelder, president of Bemidji Woolen Mills, and Jim Stordahl, an extension agent in Polk County.

“There’s a renaissance nationwide of returning to products made in America,” Batchelder said. “There’s a large niche of consumers who are demanding natural fibers and American-made products, not ones made overseas.”

Stordahl agrees: “She’s part of a changing landscape, a movement where some of this (clothing) will be made back here.”

Anderson, 45, who grew up in Fertile, started her Northern Woolen Mills plant two months ago.

With eight employees, the business won’t have a big economic impact on this Polk County town of 1,500. However, it’s enough of a jolt that the city gave the fledgling business three acres of land in its industrial park on its western edge and a low-interest $100,000 loan.

Filling an opening

The plant’s processing starts with raw wool from sheared sheep and bison — mud, snarls and all — and turns it into fine, woolen yarn that is sold to clothing makers such as Bemidji Woolen Mills.

Anderson’s career track, which included management, tourism marketing and clothing design, took a dramatic turn after her employer had her lobby Bemidji Woolen Mills to resume the manufacturing of wool yarn. The company wasn’t interested, so Anderson filled the niche.

“I saw a need, an opening in the market, and decided to fill it myself,” she said. “Opportunity knocked and I went for it.”

Ironically, her first customer was Bemidji Woolen Mills.

The wool is all USA-grown, including from sheep ranchers in Fosston, Goodridge and McIntosh, and a bison producer in New Rockford, N.D. The equipment also can handle llama and alpaca wool.

When the equipment is all in place within two weeks, Anderson said, Northern Woolen Mills will produce 100 pounds of yarn per day, making it the second-largest processor in the country.

“I used to work in high heels and with (polished) fingernails,” she said. “Now I have grease on my hands and no fingernails. But it’s a lot more fun.”

Making an impact

Stordahl said the endeavor can have an impact at several levels.

“It’s certainly not a new 3M in the neighborhood and, for the average rancher, wool is a minor part of production,” he said. “But it does fill a niche. And wool has become a high-end fabric. If it’s high-quality wool, it is not scratchy to wear.”

Fosston has become “a hub of unusual agricultural niche products,” Stordahl said, citing the vegetable dehydrating plant in its industrial park as another example.

Chuck Lucken, Fosston’s city administrator, expressed excitement at a new business that didn’t seem likely even a few years ago.

“Any small industry we can get, whether it’s eight jobs or 50 jobs, is a good deal for us,” he said. “Who would have thought wool processing would come back?”

End Of An Era As Smelter Closes In Missouri Town

By: Jim Salter, Associated Press

HERCULANEUM, Mo. (AP) — From the day its founder arrived here, this Mississippi River town has been tied inseparably to lead, the heavy, dull-gray metal that has been mined in southern Missouri for more than two centuries.

As home to the nation’s only primary lead smelter, Herculaneum processes raw ore into metal to make car batteries, X-ray shields and many other products.

But the end of that long tradition is in sight for the small town 25 miles south of St. Louis that began smelting when this land was still owned by Spain. The company that runs the smelter, Doe Run Co., has decided to cease most operations at the end of the year, citing rising regulatory costs.

In this Nov. 15, 2013 photo, a "No Trespassing" sign is seen on a fence near Doe Run Co.'s lead smelter in Herculaneum, Mo. The nation's only primary lead smelter and the unquestioned center of the tiny town 25 miles south of St. Louis, is shutting down for good, its operator citing rising regulatory costs. Despite the environmental and health concerns that include high levels of lead in the blood of some children and yards so toxic the soil had to be removed, many in the small town are saddened by the end of an era. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

In this Nov. 15, 2013 photo, a “No Trespassing” sign is seen on a fence near Doe Run Co.’s lead smelter in Herculaneum, Mo. The nation’s only primary lead smelter and the unquestioned center of the tiny town 25 miles south of St. Louis, is shutting down for good, its operator citing rising regulatory costs.

Despite the environmental and health concerns that include high levels of lead in the blood of some children and yards so toxic the soil had to be removed, many in the small town are saddened by the end of an era. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)Lead has been both kind and cruel to Herculaneum, giving it an identity and ready jobs but also creating environmental and health concerns so worrisome that the federal government designated it a Superfund site and ordered tons of contaminated dirt to be dug up and removed. Many of the town’s children were found to have dangerously high lead levels in their blood.

Leslie and Jack Warden won’t miss the smelter. For 16 years, the couple lived less than three blocks away, literally in the shadow of the plant’s 550-foot smokestack. They raised their son there. Now 29, Eric Warden still suffers from developmental delays — a common effect of lead poisoning.

“I guess living there, you became pretty complacent about the dust, the fog, the smells,” Leslie Warden said. “It clung to the house. It was almost like a sticky dust.”

The Wardens were leaders of the effort to convince the Environmental Protection Agency to assess Herculaneum’s air quality in 2001. That testing was the impetus behind the move to clean up lead in the town known by locals as “Herky.”

“We didn’t do what we did to shut the plant down,” Leslie Warden said. “We wanted the children of Herculaneum to be safe from lead.”

Even the town’s name seems to evoke a smoky past shaped by earth and fire. Herculaneum is believed to be a reference to a Roman city that was among those buried by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. The name was also inspired by the rocky ledges that rise over the Mississippi in a shape suggestive of a Roman amphitheater.

Herculaneum’s history dates to 1798, when a settler from Connecticut named Moses Austin obtained a Spanish land grant after learning of the region’s mineral deposits. He began mining and producing lead almost immediately.

By the mid-1800s, southeast Missouri was known as the “Lead Belt” for its rich deposits. Herculaneum’s standing was enhanced when the St. Joseph Lead Co. picked it as the site for a huge smelter, which opened in 1892 to extract lead from ore.

Primary smelting refers to that extraction process. Secondary smelting is a different practice that uses recycled scrap material.

Lead paint and leaded gasoline were phased out long ago, but lead is still used in many everyday products.

In 1994, St. Louis-based Doe Run bought the operation and with it the risks of a business that was the focus of growing health concerns.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says lead can damage the brain and nervous system, and young children are especially susceptible. Even low levels can cause behavior and learning problems and hearing loss. For adults, lead can affect the nervous system and cause kidney and cardiovascular problems.

The EPA testing showed high levels of air pollution, and more than half of preschool-age children living near the smelter had elevated levels of lead.

Signs soon went up urging parents to keep their kids from playing on streets and in parks. Herculaneum’s 3,700 residents were even told not to wear shoes inside their homes.

In this Nov. 15, 2013 photo, Doe Run Co.'s lead smelter is seen in Herculaneum, Mo. The nation's only primary lead smelter and the unquestioned center of the tiny town 25 miles south of St. Louis, is shutting down for good, its operator citing rising regulatory costs. Despite the environmental and health concerns that include high levels of lead in the blood of some children and yards so toxic the soil had to be removed, many in the small town are saddened by the end of an era. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

In this Nov. 15, 2013 photo, Doe Run Co.’s lead smelter is seen in Herculaneum, Mo. The nation’s only primary lead smelter and the unquestioned center of the tiny town 25 miles south of St. Louis, is shutting down for good, its operator citing rising regulatory costs. Despite the environmental and health concerns that include high levels of lead in the blood of some children and yards so toxic the soil had to be removed, many in the small town are saddened by the end of an era. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Doe Run purchased around 150 homes through a voluntary buyout program. The Wardens sold their house in 2004 and moved to nearby Festus.

Today, much of the area around the plant is vacant and fenced-in, with posted warnings about the presence of lead. A few homes still stand near the smelter but most are unoccupied, used only by police and fire departments for training.

In addition to the buyout, Doe Run spent $14 million to remove lead-contaminated soil from nearly 700 properties — mostly residential yards but also school grounds, parks and other land. The contamination came partly from lead that spilled from trucks constantly going to and from the smelter.

The company also spent nearly $12 million in 2007 to reduce air pollution at the smelter, said Gary Hughes, general manager of Doe Run’s Primary Smelting Division.

After the smelter closes, the company has agreed to spend more than $8 million more for cleanup of the property, EPA spokesman David Bryan said.

The cleanup effort has helped. State testing this year found no Herculaneum children with dangerously high levels of lead in their blood.

Doe Run decided to close the plant in 2010, briefly reconsidered, then confirmed its original plan to shut down, citing increasingly strict air pollution standards.

“The cost of the factory in the current economic and environmental climate just put the company at too much risk,” Hughes said.

The plant will cease smelting at the end of the year but will remain open through 2014 for secondary purposes such as making alloys for specialty customers. About 75 of the 300 workers will stay on, and another 50 have been moved to other jobs, such as mining. Sixteen will retire, but the rest will be out of work. The company set up a career center to help them.

Doe Run, which hopes to find a buyer for the site, will continue mining lead in southern Missouri but will send the ore elsewhere for smelting, primarily to Asia, Hughes said. China is the world’s leading lead smelter.

The loss of the smelter will have lasting effects that go beyond jobs. Doe Run helped build a fire station in 2010 and a $6 million bridge last year. The company also funded scholarships, athletic events and other school-related expenses, and its taxes contributed $500,000 in 2012 to the district.

“There were the negatives with the smelter,” school Superintendent Stan Stratton said. “But they were always good partners.”

Kathleen Logan Smith of the Missouri Coalition for the Environment acknowledged the drawbacks, but said the quality of life will improve.

“For the folks living closest to the plant and the people who have endured lead dust on their streets, their lives are hopefully going to get better,” she said. “There’s an opportunity to re-envision what Herculaneum is and ought to be.”

‘Made in the USA’ may not mean what you think

By Dan Nakaso, dnakaso@mercurynews.com

Original article POSTED in San Jose Mercury News:   12/24/2013 04:29:23 PM PST |
Dylan Sievers, CEO of Bulldog LED Lighting, with some his products in Burlingame, Calif., on Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013. (John Green/Bay Area News Group)

 It seems simple enough: To be labeled as “Made in America,” a product sold in California must include only components manufactured and assembled in this nation.

But that’s a tougher standard than elsewhere in the country, where small amounts of foreign parts don’t invalidate the label. And now it’s touched off a debate among business interests and consumer rights groups, as state lawmakers consider lowering the threshold included in the state’s 52-year-old labeling law.

Richard Russell, chairman of the board of Russell’s Furniture, is opening a new store in San Mateo on Feb. 1 that he originally planned to call “Made in America.”

Labels on boxes of Bulldog LED Lighting products in Burlingame, Calif., on Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013. (John Green/Bay Area News Group)

But he changed the name to “Russell’s Furniture American Pride/Bringing Jobs Back Home” after his suppliers — including Amish craftspeople from Ohio — could not guarantee that every single component originated in America, which would meet the California standard for labeling a product Made in America.

“We’ve seen plant after plant shuttered and I want to support American manufacturing and bring jobs back to America,” Russell said. “But I don’t want to get sued. It blows me away that I can’t say ‘Made in America.’ It gets me upset.”

The idea of watering down California’s standard bothers Richard Holober, executive director of the Consumer Federation of California, which opposed an earlier draft of the bill that would have allowed products to carry a “Made in America” label if 90 percent of the parts were made and assembled in the United States.

“It’s about truth in advertising,” Holober said. “The California standard is clear and you don’t get into the problem of subjectivity. What’s wrong with being honest? Why is it such a problem to simply say, ’90 percent Made in the USA?’ “

Businesses counter that they’re punished in the marketplace for trying to comply with California’s law because many of their competitors ignore it and label their products American made and sell them in California even when they contain foreign parts.

Nationally, the Federal Trade Commission oversees guidelines that are less restrictive than California’s, saying that a product claiming to be made in the USA “must be all or virtually all” made in America, said Julia Solomon Ensor, an attorney in the enforcement division of the FTC’s bureau of consumer protection.

“On the one hand, of course we think it’s important for companies to promote the good work they’re doing in the USA,” she told this newspaper. “On the other hand, our primary goal is to prevent consumer deception.”

The national standard of “all or virtually all” leaves plenty of wiggle room for interpretation. The FTC will suggest ways for companies to comply, but the decision on what meets the FTC guidelines is left to the nation’s civil courts, just as California civil courts determine whether a product meets the state standard.

In California, it’s against state law to include a “Made in America” or “Made in the USA” label when any part of the product “has been entirely or substantially made outside of the United States.”

That means every single part essentially has to be made and assembled in the United States to carry a “Made in the USA” label in California. But representatives for business say it’s a standard that’s virtually impossible to meet in today’s global market.

A proposed revision of the law, SB 661, would allow goods containing foreign-made parts to be advertised as “Made in America” or similar phrases — as long as the parts cannot be found in the United States and as long as the foreign parts constitute a “negligible part” of the final product.

Circuit boards used in the Bulldog LED lights, in Burlingame, Calif., on Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013. (John Green/Bay Area News Group)

The law was enacted in 1961 to push back against foreign companies that were employing deceptive “Buy America promotions,” according to a legislative analysis of SB 661, which would amend the law.

The author of SB 661, state Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, said his proposed changes would still be the most restrictive in the country.

“You should not be allowed to claim ‘Made in the USA’ if parts are available in the U.S. but you choose not to buy them,” Hill said. “But it will make California businesses as competitive as the rest of the businesses in all of the other 49 states.”

For consumers, Hill said, the new standard would let them know “that every effort was made to manufacture 100 percent in the United States except for just one small part that could not be made here.”

San Carlos-based Bulldog LED Lighting cannot get U.S.-made LEDs for its vehicle lighting systems. So Bulldog buys two separate packaging labels: One simply marked “MADE IN U.S.A.” for the rest of the country and an 11-word version for California that reads, “Made in the USA CA: contains global parts not domestically available.”

The wordier label has not hurt sales in California, which account for about 20 percent of Bulldog’s business, according to Lisa Sievers, Bulldog’s director of operations. Asked why Bulldog doesn’t simply use its California label for the rest of the country, Sievers said it puts her company at an unfair disadvantage against competitors who advertise that their products are “Made in the USA” across the country.

“A few years ago, I believed every word of ‘Made in the USA.’ Now I know differently,” Sievers said. “Now when I see the label, I think, ‘There’s no way. I know for a fact that wasn’t 100 percent made in the USA.’ “

Two separate polls by Harris and Gallup found overwhelming support among U.S. consumers who said they would pay more to buy products labeled “Made in the USA” to support American manufacturing, U.S. jobs and to push back against foreign competition.

But neither poll asked whether respondents understood that products marked “Made in America” actually are allowed to contain foreign parts.

Joel Joseph, founder and chairman of the Los Angeles-based Made in the USA Foundation, insists that savvy shoppers know that something labeled “Made in the USA” probably isn’t 100 percent American made — even in California.

Joseph called California’s current standard “ridiculous” and said it’s being protected by lawyers who see opportunities to take violators to court.

“Because it’s so easy to prove a violation, it’s the lawyers who want it — not the consumers,” Joseph said. “A lot of companies are violating California’s law, which makes it a hot bed for lawsuits.”

SB 661 faces a deadline of midnight Jan. 17 to get out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. If not, it’s dead.

In the meantime, Bulldog moved much of its operations to Texas in July, partly to reduce shipping costs and partly out of anger at California’s resistance to changing the standard. Even though part of its operation is now in Texas, Bulldog still must meet the California labeling standard to sell its lights here.

“We’re fighting to keep American factories in business,” Sievers said. “But we’re also trying to be honest with our labeling in California. Unfortunately, not everyone’s playing on a level playing field.”

Contact Dan Nakaso at 408-271-3648. Follow him at Twitter.com/dannakaso.

* Bulldog Lighting is Made in USA Certified with a qualifying claim.  For information please visit our website: www.USA-C.com

Follow Made in USA Certified on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/madeinusacertified

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On Twitter: https://twitter.com/madeinusacert  at @MadeinUSACert

China Imposes First-Ever West Coast Shellfish Ban

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 5:58 pm on KUOW.ORG
By  AND KATIE CAMPBELL AND ANTHONY SCHICK

China has suspended imports of shellfish from the west coast of the United States — an
unprecedented move that cuts off a $270 million Northwest industry from its biggest
export market.

China said it decided to impose the ban after recent shipments of geoduck clams from
Northwest waters were found by its own government inspectors to have high levels of
arsenic and a toxin that causes paralytic shellfish poisoning.

The restriction took effect last week and China’s government says it will continue
indefinitely. It applies to clams, oysters and all other two-shelled bivalves harvested from
the waters of Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Northern California. U.S. officials think the
contaminated clams were harvested in Washington or Alaska. Right now they’re waiting
to hear back from Chinese officials for more details that will help them identify the exact
source.

State and federal agencies oversee inspection and certification to prevent the shipment of
tainted shellfish. Jerry Borchert of the Washington Department of Health said he’s never
encountered such a ban based on the Chinese government’s assertion that these U.S.
safeguards failed to screen out contaminated seafood.

“They’ve never done anything like that, where they would not allow shellfish from this
entire area based on potentially two areas or maybe just one area. We don’t really know
yet,” Borchert said.

The biggest blow could fall to those who farm or harvest the supersized geoduck clams.
In the Northwest, they’re concentrated in Washington’s Puget Sound, where about 5
million pounds of wild geoduck are harvested each year. Aquaculture accounts for an
additional 2 million pounds, according to estimates from the Washington Department of
Natural Resources.

A barricade around the Chinese consumer market means trouble for those in the
Northwest who rely on Asian trade.

“It’s had an incredible impact,” said George Hill, the geoduck harvest coordinator for
Puget Sound’s Suquamish Tribe. “A couple thousand divers out of work right now.”
The U.S. exported $68 million worth of geoduck clams in 2012 — most of which came
from Puget Sound. Nearly 90 percent of that geoduck went to China.
Geoduck are highly prized in China, where the clams sell for retail prices of $100 to $150
per pound. Although geoduck are harvested year round, demand peaks during the holiday
season leading up to the Chinese celebration of the lunar new year — which falls on Jan.
31 for 2014.

The geoduck (pronounced “GOO-ee-duck”) is a the world’s largest burrowing clam. It’s
slow-growing, regularly reaching 100 years old and often weighing as much as 10
pounds.

Harvesters are waiting for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to
negotiate with the Chinese government to come to an agreement on how to move
forward and reopen shellfish trade. NOAA stopped issuing certification for shellfish
exports last Friday.

Officials say the investigation is ongoing but the closure could last for months. While the
industry awaits a resolution at the international level, it is adjusting to the new reality.
The Suquamish Tribe is trying to develop other markets in New York, California and
locally at seafood markets in Seattle, Hill said.

Bill Dewey, a spokesman for the largest shellfish supplier in Washington said his
company, Taylor Shellfish, is looking at other solutions.

“I was just talking to our geoduck manager and he’s got two harvest crews and three
beach crews essentially doing makework,” Dewey said. “He’s too nice a guy to lay them
off during the holidays but there’s only so much you can be charitable about making work
for people and eventually you’re going to have to lay them off.”

Copyright 2013 ERTHFX. Original post: http://kuow.org/post/china-imposes-first-ever-west-coast-shellfish-ban

Crumbling American Dreams

By ROBERT D. PUTNAM
The demolition of the old Port Clinton Middle and Jefferson Elementary Schools in Port Clinton, Ohio.
Andrew Borowiec for The New York Times The demolition of the old Port Clinton Middle and Jefferson Elementary Schools in Port Clinton, Ohio.

My hometown — Port Clinton, Ohio, population 6,050 — was in the 1950s a passable embodiment of the American dream, a place that offered decent opportunity for the children of bankers and factory workers alike.

But a half-century later, wealthy kids park BMW convertibles in the Port Clinton High School lot next to decrepit “junkers” in which homeless classmates live. The American dream has morphed into a split-screen American nightmare. And the story of this small town, and the divergent destinies of its children, turns out to be sadly representative of America.

Growing up, almost all my classmates lived with two parents in homes their parents owned and in neighborhoods where everyone knew everyone else’s first name. Some dads worked in the local auto-part factories or gypsum mines, while others, like my dad, were small businessmen. In that era of strong unions and full employment, few families experienced joblessness or serious economic insecurity. Very few P.C.H.S. students came from wealthy backgrounds, and those few made every effort to hide that fact.

Half a century later, my classmates, now mostly retired, have experienced astonishing upward mobility. Nearly three-quarters of them surpassed their parents in education and in that way advanced economically as well. One-third of my classmates came from homes with parents who had not completed high school and, of that group, nearly half went to college.

Low costs at public and private colleges across Ohio were supplemented by locally raised scholarships — from the Rotary Club, the United Automobile Workers, the Junior Women’s Club and the like. Although the only two black students in my class encountered racial prejudice in town and none of their parents had finished grade school, both reached graduate school. Neither for them nor for our white classmates was family background the barrier to upward mobility that it would become in the next century.

Marie and Philip Berry are managers of Seed Faith Food Pantry in Port Clinton.
Andrew Borowiec for The New York TimesMarie and Philip Berry are managers of Seed Faith Food Pantry in Port Clinton.

Our (white) star quarterback, whom I will call J, grew up on the poor side of town. His dad, who had an eighth-grade education, worked two jobs to keep the family afloat — on the line at Port Clinton Manufacturing from 7 to 3, then at the canning factory from 3:30 to 11. Despite his 70-plus-hour workweek, J’s dad made it to J’s games. Unable to afford a car, J’s family hitched rides with neighbors to church every week and ate a lot of hash. Despite their modest background, J’s parents urged him to aim for college, and he chose the college-prep track at P.C.H.S., finishing in the top quarter of our class. His minister pointed him toward a downstate Lutheran institution and made a phone call to help find him financial aid. J graduated debt-free and continued on to seminary and a successful career as a Lutheran minister, coaching high school football on the side.

J’s rise from a well-knit but modest working-class family to a successful professional career was not atypical, as a recent survey of my classmates revealed. My classmates describe our youth in strikingly similar terms: “We were poor, but we didn’t know it.” In fact, however, in the breadth and depth of the social support we enjoyed, we were rich, but we didn’t know it.

As we graduated, none of us had any inkling that Port Clinton would change anytime soon. While almost half of us headed off to college, those who stayed in town had reason to expect a steady job (if they were male), marriage and a more comfortable life than their parents’.

But just beyond the horizon a national economic, social and cultural whirlwind was gathering force that would radically transform the life chances of the children and grandchildren of the graduates of the P.C.H.S. class of 1959. The change would be jaw dropping and heart wrenching, for Port Clinton turns out to be a poster child for changes that have engulfed America.

The manufacturing foundation of Port Clinton’s modest prosperity in the 1950s and 1960s began to tremble in the 1970s. The big Standard Products factory at the east end of town provided nearly 1,000 steady, good-paying blue-collar jobs in the 1950s, but the payroll was more than halved in the 1970s. After two more decades of layoffs and “give backs,” the plant gates on Maple Street finally closed in 1993, leaving a barbed-wire-encircled ruin now graced with Environmental Protection Agency warnings of toxicity. But that was merely the most visible symbol of the town’s economic implosion.

Manufacturing employment in Ottawa County plummeted from 55 percent of all jobs in 1965 to 25 percent in 1995 and kept falling. By 2012 the average worker in Ottawa County had not had a real raise for four decades and, in fact, is now paid roughly 16 percent less in inflation-adjusted dollars than his or her grandfather in the early 1970s. The local population fell as P.C.H.S. graduates who could escape increasingly did. Most of the downtown shops of my youth stand empty and derelict, driven out of business by gradually shrinking paychecks and the Walmart on the outskirts of town.

An abandoned church in Port Clinton, Ohio.
Andrew Borowiec for The New York TimesAn abandoned church in Port Clinton, Ohio.

The social impact of those economic hammer blows was initially cushioned by the family and community bonds that had been so strong in my youth. But as successive graduating P.C.H.S. classes entered an ever worsening local economy, the social fabric of the 1950s and 1960s was gradually shredded. Juvenile-delinquency rates began to skyrocket in the 1980s and were triple the national average by 2010. Not surprisingly, given falling wages and loosening norms, single-parent households in Ottawa County doubled from 10 percent in 1970 to 20 percent in 2010, while the divorce rate more than quadrupled. In Port Clinton itself, the epicenter of the local economic collapse in the 1980s, the rate of births out of wedlock quadrupled between 1978 and 1990, topping out at about 40 percent, nearly twice the race-adjusted national average (itself rising rapidly).

Unlike working-class kids in the class of 1959, many of their counterparts in Port Clinton today are, despite toil and talent, locked into troubled, even hopeless lives. R, an 18-year-old white woman, is almost the same age as my grandchildren. Her grandfather could have been one of my classmates. But when I went off to college on a scholarship from a local employer, he skipped college in favor of a well-paid, stable blue-collar job. Then the factories closed, and good, working-class jobs fled. So while my kids, and then my grandchildren, headed off to elite colleges and successful careers, his kids never found steady jobs, were seduced by drugs and crime, and burned through a string of impermanent relationships.

His granddaughter R tells a harrowing tale of loneliness, distrust and isolation. Her parents split up when she was in preschool and her mother left her alone and hungry for days. Her dad hooked up with a woman who hit R, refused to feed her and confined R to her room with baby gates. She says her only friend was a yellow mouse who lived in her apartment. Caught trafficking drugs in high school, R spent several months in a juvenile detention center and failed out of high school, finally eking out a diploma online. Her experiences left her with a deep-seated mistrust of anyone and everyone, embodied by the scars on her arms where a boyfriend injured her in the middle of the night. R wistfully recalls her stillborn baby, born when she was 14. Since breaking up with the baby’s dad, who left her for someone else, and with a second fiancé, who cheated on her after his release from prison, R is currently dating an older man with two infants born to different mothers — and, despite big dreams, she is not sure how much she should hope for.

R’S story is heartbreaking. But the story of Port Clinton over the last half-century — like the history of America over these decades — is not simply about the collapse of the working class but also about the birth of a new upper class. In the last two decades, just as the traditional economy of Port Clinton was collapsing, wealthy professionals from major cities in the Midwest have flocked to Port Clinton, building elaborate mansions in gated communities along Lake Erie and filling lagoons with their yachts. By 2011, the child poverty rate along the shore in upscale Catawba was only 1 percent, a fraction of the 51 percent rate only a few hundred yards inland. As the once thriving middle class disappeared, adjacent real estate listings in the Port Clinton News Herald advertised near-million-dollar mansions and dilapidated double-wides.

An intersection in Port Clinton.
Andrew Borowiec for The New York TimesAn intersection in Port Clinton.

The contrast with the egalitarian ethos and reality of the 1950s — the contrast between the upward mobility experienced by J and the bleak prospects of R — vividly captures Port Clinton’s transformation in the last half-century, much like that of the rest of the country. My research team has talked with dozens of R’s from Austin, Tex., to Duluth, Minn., and from Atlanta to Orange County, Calif.

The crumbling of the American dream is a purple problem, obscured by solely red or solely blue lenses. Its economic and cultural roots are entangled, a mixture of government, private sector, community and personal failings. But the deepest root is our radically shriveled sense of “we.” Everyone in my parents’ generation thought of J as one of “our kids,” but surprisingly few adults in Port Clinton today are even aware of R’s existence, and even fewer would likely think of her as “our kid.” Until we treat the millions of R’s across America as our own kids, we will pay a major economic price, and talk of the American dream will increasingly seem cynical historical fiction.

A version of this article appears in print on 08/04/2013, on page SR9 of the NewYork edition with the headline: Crumbling American Dreams.

“Made in the USA” Matters to Shoppers – Including Millennials

PERCEPTION RESEARCH SERVICES LOGO

TEANECK, N.J., Dec. 4, 2013

TEANECK, N.J., Dec. 4, 2013 /PRNewswire/ – Results from the latest shopper research survey conducted by Perception Research Services (PRS) indicate that shoppers are motivated by “Made in the USA” claims on packaging as most say that they are more likely to purchase a product after noticing the “Made in the USA” claim on it. This claim has resonated with baby boomers in the past, and is now influencing Millenials more so than in prior years.

According to the Boston Consulting Group’s (BCG) Center for Consumer and Customer Insight, U.S. Millennials are receptive to cause marketing and are more likely than non-Millenials to purchase items associated with a particular cause (37 percent versus 30 percent). Consistent with 2012, the PRS study shows that the primary reason shoppers claim they are more likely to purchase “Made in the USA” products is to “help the economy.” Considering that Millennial shoppers may still be feeling the effects of the last recession, it makes sense that they want to reinvigorate the U.S. economy.

Another reason many shoppers claim to prefer “Made in the USA” products is because they are perceived to be higher quality and worth paying more for. According to the BCG, “when considering similar products made in the U.S. vs. China, the average American is willing to pay up to 60% more for U.S. made products.”

However, this may vary greatly based on the specific product category. Recent sales data suggest that many apparel shoppers are willing to forgo some level of product quality in order to pay less. According to industry analysts at NPD, many T-shirts that are bought today are lighter than they used to be since manufacturers had to take things out to keep the price the same.

But Wal-Mart, for one, is pushing to have it both ways – maintain low costs while still providing American made goods.  Walmart asserts it is giving its suppliers added incentives that would increase sourcing of American-made products by $50 billion over the next 10 years and create more than 1,600 American jobs.

A wide range of companies such as Apple, General Electric and Brooks Brothers are also experimenting with making more products in the U.S. However, the shift to more American-made products may not be entirely patriotic.  For many, manufacturing abroad no longer makes sense. Either it is becoming too costly or they feel they are lacking a competitive edge.  In some cases they want to meet consumers’ desire for American-made goods, or they simply want to get merchandise from the design phase into stores within weeks rather than months in order to be “of the moment”.

Importantly, for the shoppers in our study, the majority of products they say they would prefer to purchase if American-made are food, medicine and personal care items – suggesting that quality and safety may be the true motivating factors. This may be, in part, because for these lower priced items, the cost savings may not be substantial enough to sacrifice quality.

“Manufacturers of American-made products would do well to clearly state this fact as it is a meaningful point-of-difference. This is certainly true if all else is equal, and in some cases, could provide a sufficient level of quality assurance to justify a higher price,” stated Jonathan Asher, Executive Vice President of PRS. “As Millennials enter their peak purchasing power years, it will benefit manufacturers to provide more “Made in the USA” products, and overtly tout this claim,” Asher continued, “as this group is likely to be increasingly interested in buying American.”

This research for “Made in the USA” was conducted in July 2013 among over 1500 consumers, aged 18+, drawn from a nationally representative online sample in the United States.

About PRS

Founded in 1972 and headquartered in Teaneck, New Jersey, Perception Research Services (PRS) specializes in consumer research to develop, assess and improve shopper communications, including packaging and POS systems. PRS conducts over 800 studies annually on behalf of marketers, designers and manufacturers, including: qualitative research, on-shelf packaging assessments, in-store, online and with PRS Eye-Tracking. With office locations throughout the United States, Europe and Asia, our global reach helps clients win at retail the world over. For more information visit http://www.prsresearch.com.

Media Contact: Ana Sandoval: 201-720-2719, Ana.Sandoval@prsresearch.com

SOURCE Perception Research Services

Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/1623334#ixzz2mbTUS2NM

Made in USA Claims – How Your Company Can Avoid a “Yankee Doodle Don’t”!

canyoubelieve_usa

Does a product that proudly touts a “Made in USA” label or claim influence consumers purchasing decisions?  The answer is a resounding “yes”!   According to a recent research study done by the Boston Consulting Group, more than 80% of U.S. consumers (and over 60% of Chinese consumers) say they are willing to pay more for products labeled “Made in USA”  vs. those labeled “Made in China”.

There is no doubt that the “Made in USA” cache is strong and companies are anxious to capitalize on this uptick in consumer demand.  Now more than ever, we are being flooded with a flurry of “Made in USA” images, logos, claims and statements.

Let us take a look back in time in the early 2000’s when the organic movement was gaining popularity with consumers and there was a growing worldwide demand for organic food.  Organic certification (a third party certification process for producers of organic food & other agricultural products) appeared on the marketplace to assure quality and prevent fraud as well as promote commerce.    As more and more organic products were showing up in supermarkets claiming to be “organic” – consumers needed a third party regulatory certification to give consumers product assurance that they products they were buying were “truly organic”.

Flash forward to 2013 and the Made in USA Movement, consumers can walk down any retail isle of any store and find many different “Made in USA” claims, logos, and images.  A great way to see the array of images is to go to Google Images and type “Made in USA” in the search bar and thousands of images will appear.  Any company can download one of these images and use it for marketing and consumers need to be savvy enough to know that the “Made in USA” claim is a marketing claim that does not need to be pre-approved by any governing regulatory body.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and also provides helpful information to help spot, stop and avoid them.  However, as they state themselves on their website “The Commission does not pre-approve advertising or labeling claims.  A company doesn’t need approval from the Commission before making a Made in USA claim.  As with most other advertising claims, a manufacturers or marketer may make any claim as long as it is truthful and substantiated.”

Recently in the news the FTC settled a “Made in USA” case with E.K. Ekcessories out of Utah.  This is the first FTC “made in the USA” case since 2009.

The FTC asserted that the company falsely claimed certain of its products were “Made in the U.S.A. or “Truly Made in the USA” even though the products contained substantial foreign content.  In the press release found on the FTC website, the FTC alleged that E.K. Ekcessories, Inc. violated the Federal Trade Commission Act by making false and unsupported statements that its products were all or virtually all made in the United States.

According to the FTC, to say an item is “Made in USA”, all or virtually all of it has to be U.S. –made in the U.S.A.  In other words, all significant parts and processing must be of U.S. origin, and the product should contain no – or negligible foreign content.  That’s the standard explained on the FTC’s 1997 Enforcement Policy Statement on U.S. Origin Claims.

With product marketers, big business, foreign countries and even American politicians not always being completely forthright when making manufacturing claims, and no FTC pre-approval  needed, how do consumers know what is truly made in America and how do companies avoid what the FTC’s Lesley Fair put as the “Yankee Doodle Don’t”?

Fairs in her blog suggests, “First, it’s a good time to brush up on how to comply with Made in USA standards.  The Business Center has a dedicated Made in USA page to make that easier for you.  Second, given just how important many consumers take a Made in USA claim, companies that make that statement falsely or without a reasonable basis are risking law enforcement action.”

That is where a company like Made in USA Certified comes in.

Made in USA Certified is the only independent third party certification company in the Nation that conducts a full supply chain audit to verify the percentage of components/ units that are “Made in USA” and that the product was substantially transformed or manufactured in the United States of America.

Co-Founder, Julie Reiser stated.  “Made in USA Certified is here to promote accountability, transparency and verification for companies and consumers within the marketplace with a standardized supply chain audit process and recognizable seals with clear percentages.”

To learn more about Made in USA Certification please visit our website: www.USA-C.com or call 1-561-279-2855 to speak to a representative.

Written By: Julie Reiser is co-founder of Made in USA Certified, the Nation’s leading third party Certification company for “Made in USA” claims.

Website: http://www.USA-C.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/madeinusacertified
Twitter: @madeinusacert @usacertified @MrsMadeinUSA

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