Made in the USA

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For those working in the oil and gas industry, the benefits of domestic oil and gas production are abundantly clear. But there’s an emerging benefit that many people may not yet know about.

The technological innovations that have created this American energy renaissance are also helping to drive a new renaissance in American manufacturing.

Remember the old “Made in the USA” labels? They’re making a comeback. More and more companies are returning jobs to U.S. shores, or creating new manufacturing jobs here, partly thanks to fracking and horizontal drilling.

General Electric has brought the manufacturing of some appliances back to the United States. Apple plans to start producing Mac Pro personal computers on U.S. soil. And in 2013, Wal-Mart pledged to buy an additional $250 billion in U.S.-made products over 10 years, creating new markets for domestic-born goods.

Those are just a few examples. It’s all part of the domestic push to resurrect the Made in the USA label and return manufacturing to this country after decades of watching jobs and money slip out of the country due to the high cost of doing business in the U.S.

Several factors are at play. While wages have been stable in this country, they have soared in China, making it more expensive to manufacture there. Meanwhile, our domestic energy boom here has reduced natural gas prices and has kept electricity costs in check. Plus, many companies are simply finding it’s easier to keep tabs on quality control when their products are produced here. They also can keep shipping costs low.

I recently co-authored an op-ed, Made in China? No, made in the USA, with Diedra Garcia, President and CEO of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
In the piece, we mentioned that only 7 percent of the jobs in Colorado are manufacturing jobs. In decades past, manufacturing jobs were a ticket to the middle class.
If we unleash the power of domestic energy — and leave behind the battles of years past, when activists sought to ban responsible energy production — we can really give manufacturing a boost in this country.
One recent article suggested that 60,000 manufacturing jobs were added in the U.S. in 2014, versus 12,000 in 2003, either through so-called reshoring, in which American companies bring jobs back to the U.S., or foreign direct investment, in which foreign companies move production to the U.S., according to a study from the Reshoring Initiative. In contrast, as many as 50,000 jobs were “offshored” last year, a decline from about 150,000 in 2003.

That net gain of 10,000 jobs was the first net gain in 20 years, Harry Moser, the Reshoring Initiative’s founder and president, told the Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch. “The trend in manufacturing in the U.S. is to source domestically,” Moser said. “With 3 [million] to 4 million manufacturing jobs still offshore, we see huge potential for even more growth.”

This is exciting news for our country, our economy and our oil and gas industry.
But, as we point out in the op-ed, this is not about just oil and gas development, but about what that development — and the products it produces — brings to every part of this state. If you truly are concerned about the middle class, it’s foolhardy to ban fracking and oil and gas development. Every ban and over-reaching regulation takes away this opportunity and only bans good-paying manufacturing jobs that rely on Colorado oil and gas.

We should embrace Colorado’s responsible energy development as a commitment to truly begin to make progress toward economic equality and prosperity for all Coloradans.
The men and women who work in Colorado’s oil and gas industry have a lot to be proud of, from leading the push to energy independence to helping lower energy prices. Helping to bring more good-paying manufacturing jobs back to this country should be another source of pride for the thousands of industry workers in this state.