Finally, the U.S. electorate and potentially the U.S. Congress have awakened to the fact that Manufacturing is the foundation of a growing economy, but is it too late?

An article featured in notes that a political poll conducted in the spring of 2010 found “deep popular angst with the decline of America’s manufacturing might.”

Nearly four in ten respondents indicated that manufacturing based industry is the most important to the overall strength of the American economy, and 78% want the U.S. to develop a national manufacturing strategy.

While Supply Chain Matters applauds this effort, we cannot help but remain skeptical as to whether any substantive strategy will ever come forth.

U.S. Democrats, who face serious hurdles in the upcoming Congressional elections in the Fall, are apparently positioning to have various legislation addressing U.S. manufacturing introduced, but this article notes that some of these efforts may turn out to be political posturing in order for Democrats to have a rallying cry in the Fall elections.

One of the most interesting bills being proposed is the so-termed “The National Manufacturing Strategy Act” which directs the President to create a manufacturing strategy every four years.

The complete void of a manufacturing or supply chain capability strategy for the U.S. has been a constant rant within the Supply Chain Matters blog. Our latest rant in February noted that if an economy doesn’t build value in the manufacture of goods, which in-turn drives the need for robust supply and value-chain capabilities, than we may as well all get in line for those very few service jobs left in retail, financial services or restaurant sector.  The world economy, and particularly China, continues to up the ante on world class competitive manufacturing and supply chain capabilities, and the U.S. muddles along with both political parties stalemated.

For what it is worth, we should all pass along some stern advice to our U.S. Congressional leaders.  If readers will indulge, let me start the ball rolling:

Yes, the U.S. lacks a strategic manufacturing strategy, and the proposed bill to create one should pass post haste.  By the way, include in that bill that the strategy needs to be delivered to the President in less than six months, since it is way overdue.  The President should appoint a commission that is balanced among senior executives of well known manufacturing focused companies such as Ford, GE, Caterpillar, 3M, and others.  The commission should also include people who understand the importance of building supply and value chain capabilities to support strategic industries.  Andy Grove should chair the Commission, since he has already nicely articulated the challenge and the need. While the U.S. is addressing supply chain capabilities in alternative energy vehicles, it probably needs to address other strategic industry as well, and please Mr. President, refrain from appointing anyone from the Wall Street insider community on this commission.

My observation is that Americans are highly frustrated with their political leaders because of a lack of movement in the economy and in the longer-term economic welfare of their families. Posturing and bickering only adds to the frustration, and quite frankly, if Republicans and Democrats really believe in the vibrancy of private enterprise, they should be enthusiastically sponsoring and supporting a strategic manufacturing and value-chain strategy for the U.S.

A message to Republicans- your stance of do-nothing for the sake of political posturing or protecting against the deficit has little meaning if the U.S. cannot revive its economic and job growth.  These are hollow without a vibrant U.S. manufacturing resurgence with a strong U.S.-based supply chain.

A message to Democrats- advocating for a comprehensive manufacturing strategy is the right issue, but please, please do not give it the lip service.  Provide leadership and substance and actively work with the opposition to get it done.

For the health of the American economy, don’t waste time.  The stakes are very high, and supply chains do matter.

Bob Ferrari