Is rural America becoming China’s China for manufacturing?

Many in the Carolinas thought the textile industry was gone for good. That it had moved to China and would never return. But the NY Times reports that a textile mill is opening in Indian Land, SC, and it has an unlikely owner.

The Chinese-owned Keer Group is moving some textile production back from China to South Carolina.

From the Times piece:

Textile production in China is becoming increasingly unprofitable after years of rising wages, higher energy bills and mounting logistical costs, as well as new government quotas on the import of cotton.

At the same time, manufacturing costs in the United States are becoming more competitive. In Lancaster County, where Indian Land is located, Keer has found residents desperate for work, even at depressed wages, as well as access to cheap and abundant land and energy and heavily subsidized cotton.

In short, things have gotten better in China making manufacturing more expensive, and things have gotten worse in Indian Land, South Carolina.

I knew that rural America had become the developing nation of American manufacturing. There are few opportunities, less education, and plenty of desperate people who can be paid lower wages and receive fewer if any benefits. I’ve seen this happen in my own hometown where the largest employers are the temp agencies that provide labor to the large factories.

What’s new is that rural America is becoming the developing nation of International manufacturing. Rural America is becoming China’s China. 

I don’t think this sort of reshoring of manufacturing is cause to celebrate. How about you?

If you are looking for reshoring done right, I recommend checking out the work of my friends at Cotton of the Carolinas who produce products from dirt to shirt sourced in the Carolinas, and also SustainU who uses recycled cotton on their Made in USA products.


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