Made in America is more than just a movement, it is a lifestyle. For some, it is even their business. In this trying time of economic sacrifice, there is no easier way to stimulate the growth of our economy and our communities than to support the businesses of Americans who have chosen to make America their business.
Mark Bollman of Boston-based haberdasher Ball and Buck says that in these trying times what is most important to the growth of our economy is the way that people spend their money. "Americans should view their purchases as a vote," he says, "and that vote has the power to vote for quality American-made goods that stimulate business, jobs, and the economy."
He is not the only one pioneering this new kind of spending. This idea of voting for America with your dollar is something that has been thrown around in politics for years. However, our nation is now at a pivotal point that this decision has been placed in the hands of John Smith, the everyday American. John Smith's dollar may be in decline in spending power globally, but what John Smith buys from American businesses has the ability to increase that dollar's power exponentially.
What John Smith does with that dollar greatly impacts the increasingly swollen $500 billion US global trade deficit reported in 2010. According to Made in America Matters and Erskine Bowles, of President Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility & Reform, if the US government does not make changes soon, by 2020 it will be spending $2 trillion dollars per year in interest alone. “The United States is not generating enough wealth to pay its mounting and massive debts. Cheap imports made in unsafe, low-wage factories overseas are not improving the fortunes of America’s least fortunate, much less its middle class. The US trade deficit in 2008 stood at $700 billion – or about $2,000 for every American.”1
Roughly every $1 spent producing domestically manufactured products generates $1.40 in economic stimulus. It's simple enough to sum it up by saying that buying here keeps our economy afloat by reinvesting our money in our own economy."My position on this is verysimple. If you make it here and buy it here, there's a job here. You can't get any more cause and effect than that. I think too many people just over-think it.", says Scott Anderson, of Anderson-Little. It's a concept he knows all too well, he is the president and CEO of a true heritage brand.
Anderson-Little started in 1936 with Morris B. Anderson, Scott's great-grandfather, and after a series of buyouts closed its last location in 1998. Scott and his father, Stuart, are reviving the brand. Scott has already returned to their "factory-direct, with free shipping" roots established by his great-grandfather but has given the company a new spark with its sales being entirely online now. "We'd love to return to our New England roots," Scott says, "because we once employed 600 people in our Fall River factory.
The sad truth, though, is that local and big government often impedes the progression of the American-made movement. When Scott and his father tried to secure a loan to rebuild the Fall River factory from the city, they were rejected. It's not uncommon, sometimes the local governments don't have the money to give. However, if those 600 jobs were to return to the area, the money wouldn't really an issue with the economic growth the area would see. Industry and innovation are what this country was founded on and that's what it's going to take to rebuild its failing economy.
Another pitfall of rebuilding factories in the country is the huge expense of refurbishing or purchasing equipment for the factories and finding skilled laborers able to undertake such tasks. With the outsourcing of jobs came the outsourcing of factories, leaving many to be left behind in destitution. Beyond that, several generations of Americans have been cheated out of those factory jobs and the apprenticeship of learning those skilled labor positions.
It seems that this rising generation of Americans thinks everyone should be a doctor or a lawyer, when in reality what this country is really starving for is a class of hard-working, highly-skilled artisans who can produce the quality goods that this country's economy was founded on. A return to the master/apprentice work relation and an ability to pass on these necessary skills is what can ultimately save this economy, however, most of us are being convinced by big government to take out massive loans to pay for a college education that has a shaky job possibility and security at best.
This is where we see the underdogs emerge in the industry. Recent years have seen a slow progression toward a real appreciation for buying local, which has a been a positive influence in the Made in America movement. Not to mention big online retailers like Etsy who have pioneered the art of selling handmade items globally. This kind of ingenuity is what will help the average consumer find artisans and brands who produce domestically-manufactured goods, and sometimes even produce them in the consumer's own community. Armed with tools such as these, it becomes the consumer's responsibility to cast their vote. Check back tomorrow for our next part in this made in America series which will focus on the consumer, what the consumer thinks about the economic situation, and what average citizens like you are doing to change it.