At Walmart Manufacturing Summit, Suppliers Commit to Creating 1,000 U.S. Jobs

Nearly 1,500 government officials and suppliers convened at the Walmart U.S. Manufacturing Summit to advance American renewal in manufacturing and help rebuild opportunities for America's middle class. The summit at the Orlando Convention Center underscored Walmart's commitment to buy an additional $50 billion in U.S.-made products over the next 10 years and featured announcements from suppliers that, combined, are expected to infuse more than $70 million into factory growth and create more than 1,000 domestic jobs.

"We need to make things in America," said Bill Simon, president and CEO of Walmart U.S. "But I want to be very clear: I'm not saying we should turn inward or move business away from other places. This is not about our country versus other countries. We have a global economy, and the factories abroad will keep humming along, driven in part by a rising middle class around the world. The next generation of production will need to be built closer to its consumption. And that creates an opportunity for all of us."

The summit brought together representatives from across industries – including 500 supplier companies, 32 state governments, major retail industry leaders and other retailers. "Jump-starting the manufacturing industry and rebuilding the middle class requires a national effort by companies, industry leaders, lawmakers and others," said Simon. "Together, we can help spark a revitalization of U.S.-based manufacturing, using new technology and new innovations to make production in the United States affordable and feasible."

Governors and state officials had the opportunity to speak directly with hundreds of manufacturers who are ready to create jobs in their local communities. For supplier companies, Walmart's summit provided an opportunity to present potential projects and learn about the resources available in different states.

"At the Department of Commerce, we are leading the Administration's efforts to support American manufacturing and expand our exports," said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. "I applaud Walmart for convening this summit and all of the participating companies for the commitment they've made to expand their manufacturing activities in our country.

“Right now, companies in America are making and selling products around the world at an all-time record pace, and the incentives to make things here and hire American workers is only getting stronger," Pritzker continued. “A summit like this one, which brings multiple organizations from the public and private sectors together, is exactly the type of cooperation that's needed to grow businesses, create jobs and keep America competitive."

As the economics of manufacturing are shifting and goods are increasingly being produced closer to where they are consumed, the numbers work to manufacture more in America. GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt said, "GE and Walmart understand how to bring together the best people and the best technologies to make the world work better. Today's announcement builds on the history of collaboration between GE and Walmart, and reinforces our belief that manufacturing is a competitive advantage, allowing U.S. companies to compete and win in every corner of the world."

Supplier commitments
During the summit, suppliers and manufacturers discussed opportunities to create jobs, restore communities and drive economic growth. Multiple companies announced domestic manufacturing investments, including the following:
  • GE is creating 150 jobs through a $30 million investment to produce domestically made GE Energy Efficient Soft White bulbs that will be sold exclusively at U.S.-based Walmart stores.
  • No nonsense, one of the most recognizable legwear brands in America, made by Kayser-Roth Corporation, announced today a sock initiative with Walmart that will add more than 100 new jobs at Kayser-Roth and additional jobs in local industries in North Carolina. No nonsense will be expanding its Made in the USA Program by investing up to $28 million in its existing production facilities located in North Carolina.
  • Element Electronics Corp. plans to open a new flat screen TV factory in Winnsboro, S.C. Production is scheduled to begin in December 2013 and the aggressive project will target up to 500 jobs.
  • Renfro, a North Carolina-based, multi-national legwear company specializing in the design, manufacture and sale of all kinds of socks is expanding its capacities over the next two years in Cleveland, Tenn., and Fort Payne, Ala., by investing an additional $14 million and creating an additional 195 manufacturing jobs.
  • Chobani, maker of America's No. 1 selling Greek yogurt, invested $450 million to open its Twin Falls, Idaho, plant last December. The plant employs more than 1,000 people and is the largest yogurt manufacturing facility in the world.
  • Hampton Products International has been analyzing re-shoring production over the last five years and recently invested $5 million in a new Shell Lake, Wis., facility to begin production of Wright Products screen and storm door hardware. The company plans additional capital investments in 2014 at that site that over time are expected to add an additional 150 jobs.
"Many of us want to move forward, but it can be difficult for any one retailer, supplier or local government to know where to start," concluded Simon. "At the summit, we are building a network of support for domestic manufacturing. In the room, we have the capital, the expertise, the ideas, and, most importantly, the will."

The National Retail Federation (NRF) partnered with Walmart to host the event and drive this initiative forward among its members.

"Retailers have a strong role to play in creating more jobs and manufacturing in America. We can give manufacturers the confidence they need to invest in the infrastructure they need to make this possible. We're proud to partner with Walmart in this effort," said Matthew Shay, President and CEO of the National Retail Federation. "The discussions helped to define the economic opportunity that can be driven by more U.S. manufacturing, provided details on working with government and offered examples of how suppliers are successfully increasing domestic manufacturing."

Simon underscored why it’s important for the retail and business community to act quickly. “This challenging time for our country can be turned around, but we can't wait for the circumstances to be perfect," he added. "They never will be. We can't wait for someone else to ride in and save the day.

“Business can lead the way," Simon stressed. “In fact, in this country, in this economy, in this political climate — business must lead the way."
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