The Grommit: Discover How You Can Bring Back American Manufacturing

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The Grommet’s launch conversation board is wonderfully unique to the Internet, which, for a resource that provides access to anything in seconds, is saying something. It provides you with the opportunity to speak to the Maker of a product on their launch day.

During that time, we are often flooded with positive feedback and comments like “This is awesome!” “Why didn’t I think of that?” or our favorite “I love supporting small Makers on The Grommet.” For a Maker, it is validating to see such support.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, there is…“Why is it made in China?” “Too expensive!” “I can get this for $10 at Amazon!” It’s often difficult to answer questions about why a Maker is manufacturing overseas because each product comes with its own story –and each Maker has to work within their own framework. But we do know it will be easier in the future to manufacture in America for many Makers and that’s thanks to the Maker Movement – the next industrial revolution poised to transform local economies and our entire nation as a whole. 

 A survey from Consumer Reports a few months back found eight in ten American consumers would rather buy an American-made product than an imported one and they would pay 10% more for it. Based on the frequent rally cry for American-made we see on the comment board, that’s not surprising.

In that same Consumer Reports article, a Department of Commerce report found between 2009 and 2014, U.S. manufacturing output grew 45%, 646,000 jobs were added between the beginning of 2010 and mid-2014, and 243,000 more positions were waiting to be filled. And this is on top of a Wall Street Journal survey finding 48% of large manufacturers plan to return production to the U.S. from offshore.

As of now, it still remains expensive and difficult for small-scale Makers just starting out to manufacture domestically. Many of them want to, but a feasible opportunity isn’t there so they must look to overseas options. However, changes are on the horizon.

A few weeks ago, an article from Techonomy “Will Makerspaces Jumpstart a New Industrial Revolution?” (get used to that analogy) chronicled the impact Makerspaces are having on budding entrepreneurs. What sort of impact? Oh you know, just a reduction in startup costs up to 97%.

Makerspaces and TechShops are on the verge of changing the very foundation of product development (and that's a big win for all of us). These 20,000-square-foot creation factories are opening their doors for anyone to bring an idea to life with laser cutters, computer-aided design programs, open source hardware, and 3D printers, an industry poised to grow to $4 billion by 2025, all readily available.

The Menlo Park TechShop in California has served as the inception point for companies with over $12 billion in shareholder value, $2 billion in annual sales, 2,000 jobs and $200 million in annual salaries. That is one location out of over 200 across the country. Not bad.

According to the article, California, assuming a 10% state income tax level, is receiving $20 million per year from companies out of Menlo Park with the potential for another $1.2 billion when shareholders cash out.

Now think about the impact that could have on the local and state level if every state has at least one Makerspace. Then, add in libraries nationwide that are already expressing interest in having these spaces, along with schools of every level. If anyone wants to do the math, be my guest, my head is spinning.

As the scientific and maker community made clear through the example Ahmed Mohamed, Making is about to weave itself into the very fabric of America. It's exactly what President Obama was calling for when The Grommet visited the White House for the Maker Faire last year. Let’s be a nation of makers not just consumers, he said. If we do, the questions and comments we see now will fade away to be replaced with “When are you going to make more awesome products in America?” or “Can I buy all of the products on your site at one time?” The answers: now and yes.

As a Grommet community member, each click, share, and purchase of an American-made product helps churn toward a time when affordable, made in the USA products aren’t a novelty but the norm. If 10% of a consumer’s purchases are made with a small business, local economies will boom. When they do that, more and more opportunities for business in the US blossom.

The foundation of The Grommet is Citizen Commerce; the idea your dollars can be used to vote for the shopping values you believe in. If your values include supporting small-scale Makers creating and manufacturing affordable products in America, we have great news for you— the next American Industrial Revolution is at the doorstep. You just need to cast your vote.

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