Saturday, May 07, 2005

Invasive Foreign Plant Life In America


When looking for import/export numbers, one has to fine tune them with other information. Such as, are the factories importing/exporting stuff owned by natives or are foreign entities? Are the numbers really intra-factory parts moving across borders as they are assembled in several different countries? How many are "value added"? Are the plants producing things merely assembling things made elsewhere? This last one is quite critical. When factories use native sources for raw materials this concentrates money and activity within a country's borders. When it is merely putting together premade parts then this keeps production minimalized and it has very little dynamic benefit to a country even if it does benefit a local region.

I know virtually no American company is expanding here in this country. So I decided to look into who was building factories and the information is quite distressing.

Suzuki opens assembly plant

American Suzuki Motor Corporation (ASMC) in Brea, CA, and Suzuki Motor Corporation (SMC) of Hamamatsu, Japan, recently broke ground on a new ATV manufacturing plant in Rome, GA. Attending the ceremony were ASMC President Rick Suzuki and Shigeo Narita, SMC senior executive counselor. They were joined by local representatives John Mayes, chairman of Floyd County, and Bill Fricks, commission chairman of Rome.
"We have been selling Suzuki motorcycles and ATVs in the United States since 1963, and our dream has always been to build our products here," Rick Suzuki said. "At Suzuki, one of our core values is a commitment to helping improve the communities where we do business. Our new facility represents a $40 million investment and will employ 150 people in its first year. I hope this demonstrates, beyond any doubt, our long-term commitment to the North American marketplace."

Ain't that sweet. Very carefully, the Japanese are building outlets where there are no unions nor any possibility of unions. Nor do they have the "we are family" commitments they have at home. They even tacked on the name, "American Suzuki" to make it all look very domestic. In Japan, the available labor force is dropping due to a collapsing birth rate. It makes sense to expand a factory here.

Low-Cost, Skilled Southeast Labor yells another headline.
After a brutal competition, Alabama walks away with the Hyundai prize.

Talking to economic developers in the southeast over the past eight months was impossible without the mention of Hyundai Motors. The Korean automaker's success in this country made it inevitable that it would build an assembly plant here. Everyone expected Hyundai to choose the southeast for its low labor costs and low unionization rates–but which state? On April 3, Hyundai followed the path taken by Mercedes, Toyota, and Honda since 1993 by choosing Alabama.

The manufacturing facility will be built in Montgomery, AL on a 1,600-acre plot of land in the south of the city, adjacent to Interstate 65. The $1 billion plant will employ 2,000 workers initially, with up to 4,000 people working during peak production. Hyundai expects 300,000 cars a year to roll off the line by 2005. An independent economic analysis predicts that 8,000 jobs will be created in all, through direct and indirect means; it also predicts $280 million a year in earnings to be created for Alabama residents.

The Koreans will let us assemble stuff, too! How sweet. Of course, they bargained long and hard. The lure was cheap labor. Americans, far from being the pinnacle of power in pricing labor is now in a brutal competition rapidly equalling China. This factory, owned by an Asian consortium, will sell 300,000 cars a year. This means kissing Detroit goodbye, of course. I remember when Southerners were all big on "buy American" and even today, they wave that old Glory as hard as possible and trumpet their patriotism. Except when seeking or begging money from Asians. Then everyone drops the flag and kow tows as deep as possible.

Meanwhile, with CAFTA and NAFTA the Kafkesque game runs along the same tracks only these are American corporations going down south to the Americas seeking cheap labor. Again, numbers are played with statistics to hide the dirty work. Half finished items sent out to be completed are indexed as "exports" even though the final object returns to America.

I was very pleased to read this: Advent to open new solar panel facility with ceremony.

One of the readers of this blog knows all about this!

An advanced solar energy panel company that received an $8 million investment late last year will mark the opening of its new manufacturing facility with a ceremony attended by both of New Mexico's Senators.

Advent Solar will host the ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house on Tuesday, May 3, starting at 11 a.m. at its new production facility at 800 Bradbury Drive SE Suite 100 in Albuquerque. The facility will be located within the Manufacturing Training and Technology Center on the University of New Mexico campus.

This is nice news but is too little, too late. In Europe, they are talking about building solar energy factories next to huge solar arrays in Portugal, for example. It is like we are building bicycles while others were building cars 100 years ago. Time to wake up and move on! Why wait passively until the Europeans or Asians finally open factories here? And why are American billionaires refusing to build in America? Seems others are able to open factories here but not our compatriots. Something is off key here. Really off key.

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