For a decade, manufacturing in America weakened and 6 million small business manufacturing jobs were lost, decreasing by 33 percent from 1997 to 2009, according to a recent story in the Wall Street Journal.
This last year, however, marks a change. American manufacturers are ramping up and adding needed jobs to the economy. U.S. manufacturers now employ more than 11.6 million Americans and, despite a small decline this month, manufacturers have added 238,000 jobs since the beginning of 2010. While these jobs represent only about 13 percent of those lost during the recent recession, we’re witnessing the best period of manufacturing job growth in more than a decade. Manufacturing and product exports have once again become a major driver in increasing gross domestic product.
Thirty-seven states added manufacturing jobs between April 2010 and April 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with Colorado adding 1,300 jobs.
We know government and private-sector efforts have helped turn this tide and that exports are driving profits and growth. Manufacturers exporting to other nations are gaining from higher expendable incomes of foreign consumers and governments. President Barack Obama’s National Export Initiative (NEI) aims to double U.S. exports in two years.
“Made in America is red hot overseas. It’s a brand that people are really buying,” U.S. Small Business Administration Administrator Karen Mills said on the recent CNBC series “Made in America.” The series explored how American goods are perceived and selling in other countries. International demand for U.S. products has increased because foreigners want quality. U.S. entrepreneurs not only build better mousetraps, they out-innovate.
To help companies meet export demand, the SBA has ramped up, too — with counseling, technical and export assistance and financing for small manufacturers and their supply chain companies. A free Export Business Planner also is available.
With the ability to produce more and more efficiently and export, U.S. manufacturers have a chance to out-compete.
Since Oct. 1, 2010, the Rocky Mountain SBA Region — which includes Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming — has guaranteed 173 loans supporting a total of nearly $80 million to manufacturers.
Examples of manufacturing jobs on the rise aren’t hard to find. Founded in 1957, Black Diamond Equipment of Salt Lake City started out employing only a handful of employees, but today employs more than 400. In response to rapid growth, Black Diamond acquired a SBA 504 loan in 1995 to fund further expansion. Annual revenues have continued to grow at double digit rates and Black Diamond Equipment now serves countries in Europe and Asia.
The SBA can help in continuing the rise of U.S. manufacturing. Accessing nearby SBA resources is easier than ever. Just type your zip code at www.sba.gov and resources appear. If you’re unsure who to call, start with an SBA district office employee. You’ll begin your journey to win the future for your company and the U.S.
Daniel Hannaher, the U.S. Small Business Administration Region VIII administrator, works out of Denver. Reach him at (303) 844-0505 or Daniel.Hannaher@sba.gov.