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Opinion
Plant City Observer Friday, Feb. 3, 2017 1 year ago

Owner's Report: The future of manufacturing

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Manufacturing is becoming a priority both locally and nationally.

By Felix Haynes | Observer Co-Owner

President Donald Trump had a long list of goals he voiced during his 18-month campaign to be our president.  From his early actions in his first few weeks as president, it appears that he is going to be active in his pursuit of all of them.  

This includes his pledge that the United States will “build things again.” 

Much of our economic strength has been based upon a strong
manufacturing system.  It has paid very good wages and profit margins have been attractive. 

However, the past 40 years have seen our manufacturing industry decline.  Areas like steel and shipbuilding have moved overseas, where cheaper labor and some
governmental subsidies have encouraged the trend.  Although strong arguments have been made for our policy of free trade, it has been hard for American manufacturing to compete without support in a global marketplace.  The manufacturing industry and its workers have paid a continuous price for the benefits of free trade.  

President Trump plans to bring American manufacturing jobs back.  Most recently, he ordered that a majority of the steel used in two oil pipelines to be built come from the United States.

On a local level, our Plant City Economic Development Corp. has similar priorities. The organization has placed manufacturing and agri-business in its top four target industries.  

The Plant City EDC website says that there are 62,300 manufacturing jobs in the Tampa Metropolitan
Statistical Area, 2% of total jobs in our MSA. In Plant City, there are 2,181 jobs in manufacturing, 10.9% of all jobs in our city. 

Additionally, our top four manufacturing and agri-business employers are Highland
Packaging, James Hardie, Mosaic and Morrow Steel, with Paradise, Inc., Toufayan Bakeries, International Paper, Plastipak, Evergreen Packaging, Dart Container, M&N Plastics and
Gerdau Ameristeel rounding out the list.  

The average annual Plant City manufacturing wage is about $52,227, and these salaries have increased over the past five years by an average of 2.3%.  

Average annual growth in Plant City manufacturing jobs is expected to decline by 0.3% over the next 10 years. Support for local efforts to reverse this decline also comes from our state, which sits only behind Texas on the list of states with the best climates for business startups.  

The primary speaker at the Plant City EDC’s monthly meeting at Stingray Chevrolet was Ron Starner, of Site Selection Magazine.  In a strong presentation which included several lists of top cities in economic development and business
recruitment, he emphasized that one of the areas of strong performance which made a city a top performer was its manufacturing sector.  

The top 10 small towns, Starner said, “all make things,” and the number one quality of a top town is a “proven track record of success in facilitating manufacturing and logistics expansion projects.”   

Tied for number 22, the Tampa MSA just missed the list of top 20 performers.   

With manufacturing and agri-business being in the EDC’s top four target industries, and with
President Trump’s leadership, Plant City may be poised to jump onto one of Starner’s top performer lists.    

Felix Haynes is a co-owner of the Plant City Times & Observer. 

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