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Former Walmart Head: States Should Take Lead on Reshoring

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The 50 states should take the lead in bringing manufacturing (and associated supply chains) back to America, former Walmart President and CEO Bill Simon and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley wrote in a recent op-ed.

Writing in Fortune, they repeated the common observation that pandemic-created shortages of medical supplies illustrate the risks the country faces by being dependent on overseas producers. “While American companies have rapidly shifted their supply chains to meet this unprecedented challenge, more production at home or from U.S.-friendly companies would be much better,” Simon and Haley noted. “Not only will this help our country come through this difficult time, it will protect the American people in future crises.”

The two argued that the states, rather than the federal government, “should be on the front lines of this effort” to lure back manufacturing. Simon and Haley said other states should emulate the experience of South Carolina, of which Haley is also a former governor.

“Her state cut regulations and created a low-tax, pro-worker environment,” they wrote. “It invested heavily in infrastructure, from railroads to port facilities to pipelines. And South Carolina understood the importance of providing a skilled workforce to fill the jobs created — giving students at technical colleges the training they needed to hit the ground running.”

The state’s efforts successfully persuaded manufacturers, such as a bicycle maker that supplies Walmart, to locate within its borders. Haley and Simon claimed the same approach can be taken with much more sophisticated industries, including those that are closely linked to issues of national security.

“America can renew its manufacturing, regardless of industry,” they said. “Defense contractors, electronics makers, pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers can all thrive by making products on American soil using American workers.”

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