Where in the Country are the Manufacturers?

Those of us who grew up in Pittsburgh might remember the steel town days of old. In fact, the entire region that’s now known as the Rust Belt was once home to some of the most productive manufacturing sites in the world. Cities like Detroit, Chicago and Milwaukee (along with Pittsburgh, of course) all played a vital role in America’s manufacturing success.

But what does the (literal) landscape look like today? Is the Rust Belt still home to America’s manufacturing, or has it taken root elsewhere?

Head West (and South)

For decades the Long Beach area of Los Angeles has remained one of the largest manufacturing hubs. However, other western cities are beginning or continuing to serve as major hubs across multiple sectors of manufacturing. Some of the most prominent cities include Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Las Vegas and San Diego. All have seen continuously high manufacturing employment and increased productivity.

Other areas of the country that have seen significant increases in manufacturing jobs include the Southeast. Some of these cities may not be too surprising, such as Atlanta and Raleigh, but other areas like Miami and Orlando have seen significant growth in recent years.

The Rust Belt is Still Rolling

Despite its slight pejoritve moniker, the midwest is still thriving in the manufacturing sector. Chicago remains one of the largest hubs in the world holds, along with LA and Houston, with over 200,000 manufacturing jobs. However, it’s worth noting that all three of these areas are stagnating and could soon lose their top spot designations.

Despite Chicago’s inability to increase its share of the marketing landscape, other cities across the region are stepping it up. Michigan cities, like Flint, Warren and Grand Rapids, make up “Automation Alley,” and have begun to intensify their perspective presences. Furthermore, other midwestern cities like Omaha and Louisville are seeing larger interest.

Think Small

The future of American manufacturing may just be in smaller cities. Metro areas such as Albany and Troy, N.Y., as well as Spartanburg, South Carolina, Kankakee, Illinois and Reno have all made huge strides in respective industries—most notably in the automotive and tech manufacturing sectors.

In fact, nine of the top ten spots for growing industrial manufacturing are small towns such as these. This diverse list includes towns not often thought a lot about and could, quite possibly, signal a larger shift away from major urban centers.   

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