Action News Jax – Made in the USA
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- In the past 10 years, Florida and Georgia are both on the top 10 list of states with the most number of jobs lost overseas.
Here is the list according to the Economic Policy Institute
- California 474,400
- Texas 239,600
- New York 158,800
- North Carolina 110,300
- Florida 106,100
- Pennsylvania 101,200
- Massachusetts 92,700
- Georgia 87,300.
We're highlighting some of the local companies bucking that trend. The "Made in Jacksonville" label is loved by locals. It highlights products made and manufactured right here in our own backyard. In recent years companies like Apple and Nike have moved manufacturing overseas. In turn, the beloved 'Made in the USA' label has been forfeited to foreign markets, along with jobs.
Last year, Polo Ralph Lauren made headlines during the Olympics when it was discovered that the U.S. Olympic team uniforms were made in China. That's when Northeast Florida business owner Kurt Wachle got a very important phone call from Olympic officials. "They called and said - Wow! You actually make your products in America!" he said.
Wachle says they immediately asked him to make his para cord Survival Straps, key fobs and bag tags for every American athlete. "It's made in America and the gear looks great!", Wachle says proudly.
The attention Survival Straps is getting from that ongoing Olympic partnership and many more is stretching his bottom line.
"We have had nearly 100% growth every year that we have been in business."
Wachle says he has no plans to manufacture overseas for more money. It's made in St. Johns County or it's not going to be made at all.
The same goes for ear, nose and throat surgical equipment at Medtronic. It's made in Jacksonville.
"Medtronic is the World's largest medical device company," said Mark Fletcher, President of surgical technologies. Some of his 1200 workers have been with the company here for decades.
"Jacksonville, we found to have a very strong and stable workforce," added Fletcher. "When we brought the company down here in 1978 we found this to be an ideal location to attract talent and keep talent."
The company is doing so well it is making plans to expand. An additional two hundred well-paying jobs will be available soon.
Fletcher says it would be cheaper to do it overseas.
"But again, we're dedicated to Jacksonville and our products manufactured here are distributed in over 120 countries throughout the world including China."
In fact, there are dozens of Northeast Florida companies committed to doing just that. According to the First Coast Manufacturers Association our area represents 15% of the manufacturing workforce in the state and it’s growing with 1500 companies and 35 thousand workers. Lake Ray, the president of the FCMA, says our highly-skilled workforce, quality control and high productivity means big businesses like battery maker Saft - will continue coming to our area.
"For every job you create in manufacturing you create another three jobs that supports that, says Ray"
Think about this - if we all bought just one-percent more in 'Made in the USA' products like Pilot pens, which are made in Jacksonville - it would create 250,000 new jobs.
So the next time you have a cup of coffee, put in your contacts or pick up a pen... be a label looker and see where it came from. You might just be surprised.