Much of the focus on American manufacturing in the news in the past few years has been on reshoring—US-based companies bringing production back from overseas to eliminate issues with quality, supply chain, and/or the security of their intellectual property. However, those businesses aren’t the only ones setting up manufacturing or engineering departments here in the states. International companies are increasingly opening new facilities or expanding their existing footprint domestically, and with that expansion here, their need for local tech and engineering talent is growing.
Some recent examples show the ways in which international companies are investing in manufacturing capabilities across the US. LG Energy Solution, a South Korean company that supplies electric vehicle batteries to companies like Tesla and General Motors, announced this month that it would be investing $1.4 billion to build a cylindrical battery plant in Arizona. [i] This type of battery, which is relatively small but has a high energy density, is used to power electric tools and mobility devices like EVs or e-bikes and is in increasing demand in the North American market. This plan came quickly on the heels of their January announcement of their plans to spend $2.1 billion with General Motors to build a third joint EV battery plant in the US.
LG is not the only company with plans to build batteries in the US. Japan’s Panasonic is reportedly looking for sites in either Oklahoma or Kansas to build a factory. Likewise, Toyota plans to build a battery plant in the US, with a goal of starting production in 2025.
Other industries are also looking for opportunities to open facilities in business-friendly areas. Mayekawa, a Japanese-owned compressor manufacturing company, is working to open a manufacturing plant in Waller County, Texas. [ii] The Waller County Economic Development Partnership recently finalized an incentives package with the company, pending the approval of the county’s commissioner’s court, as part of their foreign direct investment program. [iii] The program is responsible for attracting three other international companies to the area: MAN Energy Solutions, a German engine and turbine manufacturer; Grundfos, a Danish water pump manufacturer; and Burckhardt, a Swiss compressor manufacturer.
Pratrivero USA, a division of Italian fabric maker Pratrivero Nonwovens, also announced in March that it would be opening a new facility in Orangeburg County, South Carolina. [iv] The company makes fabrics used for furnishings, the automotive industry, footwear, advertising banners, and packaging; their Orangeburg facility will produce stitchbond, a nonwoven fabric that binds fiber layers together with continuous filaments. Significantly, the company cited a local training program with Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College to help them find and train people for their industry as an advantage of the area.
Taking advantage of the opportunity to bring international manufacturing directly to promising markets in the US requires having the right technical talent on board to effectively run those facilities. Finding qualified candidates for engineering and tech roles is difficult for even well-established US companies with local connections and hiring networks—demand is high while supply is scarce. For companies just coming to the U.S. or expanding from initial investments to additional facilities in new areas, the prospect of trying to look for new hires with the right set of specialized skills and experience for technical roles can be daunting, especially when progress hinges on having key staff in place.
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