A note from our editor, Elizabeth MacBride:
In our story about Pittsburgh, we look at the case for new manufacturing, which comprises robotics and biotech and other specialized sectors, and whether it can deliver a big number of high-paying jobs. There are three dynamics at play.
National security concerns. The Biden Administration announced $52.7 billion of funding for the semiconductor chips industry. Intel announced a $20 billion factory in Youngstown, Ohio, and Micron announced it would build a plant and make a $100 billion investment in Syracuse, N.Y. (Biomanufacturing is getting a much smaller federal boost of $2 billion.)
The business case for U.S. manufacturing makes some sense. The balance between labor, capital and equipment is different today, notes Ravishankar. There are new supply chain concerns. There are benefits of manufacturing close to the consumers. Those, combined with the recent emotional fallout from the pandemic and a world that seems less friendly to the ideals of openness, could push manufacturing back to the United States, said Ravishankar. “It’s like this light bulb went off,” he added, “It would be a heck of a lot easier if this were made here.”
It won’t, however, be easy or quick, he said. “Talking about reshoring sounds good. It makes for political theater,” he said. “The practical reality of doing this is hard.”
I also interviewed David Hallal, the CEO of a company, ElevateBio, that is locating a facility to manufacture cells in Pittsburgh’s new Hazelwood Green. The cells are genetically modified to potentially cure disease like multiple sclerosis and cancer.
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