By: Mark Schmit and Ken Voytek

Manufacturers throughout the United States are facing a new set of challenges and exciting growth opportunities. Given the manufacturing industry’s important role in providing both direct and indirect jobs, how firms react to these changing conditions is critical not only to the companies themselves, but to our country, our communities, our citizens, and ultimately, our economic and national security.

There are many myths concerning manufacturing. Many people still have old models and notions about manufacturing that are out of date. Manufacturing is not monolithic and is ubiquitous. Manufacturing is composed of different industries with different patterns of growth and decline, with both small and large firms.  Regions of the U.S. have different industry structures and product life cycles. The economic environment that companies compete in today is vastly different from that of 20 years ago and the pressure for change is continuing and accelerating.

Today’s economic environment presents companies with new challenges due to several factors, including:

  • Globalization
  • Technology
  • Deregulation
  • Shortened product life cycles, and
  • New standards for quality and customer satisfaction.

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