You’d have to be living under a rock to not know that today is Election Day. In the spirit of the day, we had a great idea for this week’s blog topic. We decided to write about something that has been discussed during the election that is very important to the manufacturing industry – infrastructure.
So, what is this magical thing that seems to ascend party affiliations and the political spectrum? According to Merriam-Webster it is, “the basic equipment and structures (such as roads and bridges) that are needed for a country, region, or organization to function properly.” It is the physical framework of our nation. Unless you’re living off the land and consider yourself “off the grid” (which we assume you’re not since you’re reading this) you are constantly depending on infrastructure. Is there a river near your home and a dam protects you from flooding? Infrastructure. Do you drive on a road? Infrastructure. Does somebody pick up your trash/ do you use a county dumpster? Infrastructure.
As important as strong infrastructure is to everybody on a personal level, the argument could be made that it is even more important for manufacturers. The manufacturing industry relies heavily on a capable transportation system. Manufacturers need to be able to transport goods in the most efficient way possible. They require access to complex supply chains as well as access to different markets. A comprehensive regional planning agency, CMAP, recently did a study about the connection between manufacturing and infrastructure:
“With the spread of globalization, individual components of a final manufactured good can be sourced from around the world. And while international supply chains certainly are a hallmark of contemporary manufacturing, CMAP’s research found that half of all manufactured goods in the U.S. move 50 miles or less. As such, regional supply chains play a paramount role in producing advanced manufacturing products, and adequate transportation infrastructure is necessary to enable these intra-regional moves.Transportation infrastructure also grants manufacturers access to new customers through exporting. These exports fuel economic growth in the regional economy by introducing new money that otherwise wouldn’t [be there].”
Now that we’ve established the importance of infrastructure on an individual level as well as an economic level, we’re going to tell you what the problem with it is. The simple answer is that it needs a lot of work. Multiple studies show that America’s infrastructure is incredibly outdated and quite literally crumbling before our eyes.
The infrastructure in the United States ranks 14th on the Global Competitiveness Index… that’s not very good. That’s why it’s a great thing that this topic has been getting some much needed attention.