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Archives for April 2011

U.S. Manufacturing – The View from Chicago

By Herb Shields | 04/15/2011 | 1:44 PM

I had the pleasure of attending the Alliance for Illinois Manufacturing program honoring retiring Mayor Richard M. Daley of Chicago yesterday.  It was a big day in Chicago yesterday with President Obama arriving later in the day to attend several functions himself.

 The audience for the Alliance program included state and city politicians of course, but also many representatives from local manufacturing and service companies.  The atmosphere was very upbeat with respect to the business outlook for most of the attendees. (This was echoed today by strong manufacturing numbers reported for the entire U.S.)  Pam McDonough, President of the Alliance, mentioned several important statistics during her opening remarks:

  •  Chicagoland has the 2nd most manufacturing companies in the U.S.
  • Manufacturing is the 5th largest employer in the Illinois, 12% of the total economic activity.
  • The Chicagoland manufacturers profile – 50+ years in business, less than 100 employees, average sales of $10 Million

 The Mayor focused his comments on the importance of Chicago as a major city and force in the global economy.  He spoke at length about the efforts he has led to build relationships with China and the importance of trade between companies in China and those in this area.  He mentioned the importance of working with individual city states in China and, I believe, sees the greater Chicagoland area in somewhat the same light.

 While he did not use the term global supply chain, it was clear that he sees a company’s supply chain as a factor in allowing even the small manufacturer to compete and prosper in the global marketplace.  In terms of global transportation, Mayor Daley has always been a strong advocate for O’Hare International here in Chicago.  He spoke yesterday of the concept of building a high speed rail link between O’Hare and downtown Chicago, and suggested that it be financed privately rather than with public money.  One other comment that I found interesting was his mentioning the possibility of 100 million visitors from China to the U.S. over the next 10 years.  I am not sure how to validate the number, but, even if it turns out to be too high, it has big implications for U.S. businesses, that is a lot of potential consumers – even temporarily!

 My thanks to Jim Taylor from Taylor Group Insurance Agency for inviting me to the event.

The opinions expressed herein are those solely of the participants, and do not necessarily represent the views of Agile Business Media, LLC., its properties or its employees.

About Herb Shields

Herb Shields

Herb Shields has run Chicago-based HCS Consulting since 2000, helping clients across multiple industries and in higher education improve their supply chain strategy and execution. Shields has more than 30 years as an operations executive for capital equipment, automotive, electrical machinery and consumer products companies. As vice president of materials management at consumer goods company Helene Curtis, Shields led the supply chain organization that helped Helene Curtis win "Vendor of the Year" awards from Wal-Mart Stores and Target Corp. Shields has a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from Clarkson University and did graduate work in business at Bowling Green State University.



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