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One manufacturer’s interest in Roanoke County is already attracting another business.
Monday, August 19, 2013
Luxembourg-based Ardagh Group’s decision to make metal cans in Roanoke County is in line with a national shift — it’s too soon to call it a trend — toward a rebound in the economy’s crucial manufacturing sector.
Locally, the county will reap the tax benefits of a high-tech manufacturing operation in a building that once housed a distribution center. And 96 new jobs, with better than average wages, will open up in the Roanoke Valley for skilled machine operators, managers and support staff.
That was the initial good news. Next come spin-off benefits, starting with last week’s announcement that Netherlands-based Canline Systems is expanding its manufacturing operations into the U.S. — specifically in Roanoke County, to be closer to its customers, including Ardagh.
Ardagh’s new facility will make cans for the food industry. Canline designs and makes conveyor systems that can move 2,400 cans per minute. One manufacturing process follows the other.
Canline expects to create 25 new jobs in Roanoke County over the next three years. It’s worth noting that it’s planning to serve customers throughout the U.S. from this facility.
And there well may be other, as yet unseen, spin-offs down the line.
Why the optimism? A May 2012 Department of Commerce report, “The Benefits of Jobs in Manufacturing,” noted since a low in January 2010, manufacturing employment had expanded by 4 percent, or almost 500,000 jobs, by April of last year.
A rebound is essential. Manufacturing advances innovation. And it has the largest multiplier effect of any major economic activity, according to the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis: A dollar spent in manufacturing generates another $1.35 in economic activity, making it a crucial engine of job creation.
The sector not only accounted for close to 12 million jobs — 9 percent of total employment — in 2011, but supported almost 7 million non-manufacturing jobs up and down the supply chain and in financial services. And these do not even count jobs in the service sector that grow with the manufacturing sector.
And manufacturing jobs are still good jobs. The Commerce Department found that, all else being equal, workers “tend to earn 7 percent more per hour than their counterparts in other private industries.”
And they’re more likely to have employer-provided benefits, which “increases the manufacturing compensation premium to 15 percent.”
Also, more than half the workers have at least some college education. And, not surprisingly, the “compensation premium” they enjoy increases with their education level.
Economic development is welcome in every sector; diversity is important. But manufacturing packs the biggest wallop.
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