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CED speaker: Don’t count out manufacturing in U.S.

Will County Center for Economic Development CEO President John Greuling

Will County Center for Economic Development CEO and President John Greuling

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Updated: January 10, 2013 6:34AM



Manufacturing still makes sense in the United States and Illinois, a business executive told investors with the Will County Center for Economic Development on Friday in Joliet.

Ron Bullock, chairman of the Manufacturing Institute, an organization that promotes workforce development initiatives, was the keynote speaker at the Will County Center for Economic Development’s annual meeting with investors.

Bullock’s presentation, “Building Better American Manufacturing,” was made a day after Apple announced plans to move production of one of its Mac computers from China to the United States in 2013. The news was noted at the center’s meeting along with comments from the Apple CEO about the need for better manufacturing skills in the United States.

“In Illinois, we estimate we need 30,000 people each year coming into manufacturing just to replace the (baby) boomer retirements,” Bullock told the gathering of business people and government officials at the Holiday Inn Express.

The meeting included a center report on business development that noted that Will County added nearly 1,400 manufacturing jobs in the first three quarters of the year. It’s been a leading area of job growth behind nearly 1,900 new jobs in transportation and logistics.

Bullock also is chairman of Bison Gear and Engineering in St. Charles.

He told a story of his company bringing back manufacturing of certain components from China after running into problems with quality and on-time deliveries to customers. Companies that once could wait two weeks for large orders to be delivered now expect single-part deliveries sometimes on the same day that they are ordered, Bullock said.

“Speed is very important,” Bullock said “You can’t do that if your supply chain stretches halfway around the world.”

Bullock’s comments sometimes contrasted with widely held beliefs that manufacturing is a lost economic sector in the United States as companies have moved production to China and other countries with lower wages. He said the United States actually has a $70 billion manufacturing export surplus with those countries that have free-trade agreements with the United States.

Bullock was introduced by John Greuling, chief executive of the center, who noted the news that Apple was bringing some production back to the United States.

“The CEO of Apple,” Greuling said, “has decided that since their biggest market is in the United States maybe they should start making things in the United States.”



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