Brave New World
Changes in Washington, D.C., and China are having an impact on manufacturers in Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York.
“I expect 2017 to be guided by policy change and a fear of the unknown,” says Jeff Fuchs, executive director of Maryland World Class Consortia, a Baltimore–based economic nonprofit. “Both considerations drive business decisions that manufacturers will be making.”
To get businesses running , “we need healthcare revised,” says Gene Barr, president and CEO of the Harrisburg-based Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry. “We also need policies that ensure the country can move toward greater domestic energy security.”
One positive sign is that fewer jobs are moving overseas. “Companies are returning from China,” claims Raymond Vaccari, director of Newark-based Manufacture New Jersey Talent Network. He maintains that manufacturing costs in the Asian country “have increased 200 percent in 10 years.”
Manufacturers like Studco Building Systems in Webster, New York, have been benefiting from an uptick in construction. “Things are looking strong in Philadelphia and New York City ,” says Ben Stevens, the company’s vice president. Adds Mark Zaroogian, chief operating officer of Baltimore-based lighting supplier Inter-lux: “Our size and scale puts us in a very robust and stable position.” This, he says, “really gives us the confidence to grow our business.”
Not counting a brief slowdown during the recession, Lancaster, Pennsylvania–based Ecore has experienced double-digit growth for the past 20 years. “When you’re growing that fast, you continue to hire, invest in new equipment, and utilize space as best you can,” says Mitch Schreiber, vice president of operations at the recycled flooring manufacturer.
The outlook for 2017? “Very, very rosy,” he says.