Economic Notes: Manufacturing – an important slice of Fairfield economy – worthy of celebration

September 18 2017

By Daily Republic From page B8 | September 17, 2017

Fairfield prides itself on having a “hands-on,” productive economy rather than an economy based on code on a disc drive.

Manufacturing, especially food and beverage processing, is built into the culture of the city. Some of the biggest employers in the region produce high-quality items enjoyed by people across the globe with companies like Jelly Belly, InBev Anheuser-Busch, Engelhart Gourmet Foods, Just Desserts of San Francisco, Frank-Lin Distillers Products, Heretic Brewery, Calbee Snacks and many more leading the way.

We all enjoy the products and are very proud to host these manufacturers in Fairfield, especially considering that having this “industry cluster” of product-makers is truly a rarity in California and even the U.S. We live in a national economy where if possible, major corporations offshore the production of consumer goods to markets where the cost per unit is far lower than here. This results in a trip through the retail marketplace that reads like an international travelogue – China, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, India, Mexico and increasingly African and Middle Eastern nations.

The return for us in the U.S. is cheaper goods, increased profits for corporations and a short-term higher quality of life. What we lose is the jobs and investment at home that in turn generate the dollars needed to buy those products.

Can retail, services and highly specialized products not easily off-shored alone support a regional or local economy? The potentially negative long-term impacts of an “everything imported” economy has inspired increasing interest from economic developers, economists, policy makers and elected officials from around the country. Evidence of this is in the creation of Manufacturing Day on Oct. 6.

The day was established to celebrate a nation of modern manufacturers and inspire a new wave of manufacturing in the U.S. It is a day where organizations supporting manufacturing and processing will educate their communities on both the benefits and misconceptions about manufacturing. It is also a day to put energy into improving our workforce preparation, interest in buying goods that are made in the U.S., and continue to push innovation in production.

So why is manufacturing so important compared to other industries? First of all, while all economic sectors create jobs and are important to the well-being of the economy, the impact of manufacturing is greater for several reasons:

·   On average, every manufacturing job creates three additional jobs through higher wages, local supply chains and purchasing as its economic impact.

·   While the service industries are important and create about two-thirds of all jobs, many service industries ultimately depend on manufactured goods for their existence. For example, a local air conditioning specialist installs systems in homes and commercial establishments, but someone had to manufacture the air conditioner, ductwork and supplies. Ideally, the local or regional (or national) economy has a hand in that production, increasing economic activity and profits.

·   Manufacturing traditionally creates higher-than-average-wage jobs. Well-paid, skilled manufacturing workers are then better able to participate in the local economy, patronizing local retailers, buying homes and supporting the tax base that funds schools and local services: the traditional middle class “American dream.”

·   Manufacturing facilities require greater investment on average, and therefore tend to stay and grow in existing locations longer, creating economic stability.

·   Manufacturing drives innovation, taking inventions from a “lab” setting to the real world.

As a city, Fairfield has always recognized the importance of a strong manufacturing sector. Having a cluster of food and specialty beverage manufacturers already in place is a strong selling point for local economic development efforts. We do our best to support the growth of our cluster of companies, as well as help them grow.

Fairfield is working closely with organizations like SFMade and the Bay Area Urban Manufacturing Initiative to develop and drive legislation and policy that will help our most exciting manufacturers grow and thrive in the greater Bay Area, rather than choose locations in other states and countries.

So as Manufacturing Day approaches, please take a second to recognize the companies that create not only great products for us, but jobs, investment and a healthy economy.

Economic Notes is an update from Fairfield City Hall written by Brian Miller and Robert Burris of the Fairfield Planning and Development Department. They can be contacted at 428-7461 or email at rburris@fairfield.ca.gov or bkmiller@fairfield.ca.gov.

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