A look back at three decades of new and expanded manufacturing facilities in California leaves us scratching our head. What's the state's next big game changer? Our investment highs this decade equal our lows of the '80s and '90s.
The aerospace and information technology ramp-ups in the '80s and '90s were mostly based on innovation, a competitive state business climate, viable markets and a sufficient statewide talent pool, as well as some nice weather. Those manufacturing upsurges created economic spillover effects in other manufacturing sectors and service industries, as well as massive footprints in the economy. Many of those manufacturers still exist and helped sustain our economy through bad times.
This is specifically what we need now. What will the game changer be? Who will be making the investments in California? (You'll see in CMTA's "Why not California" blogs that the climate is not conducive to growth). In previous decades, winners and losers weren't chosen by California government. Sectors and companies were built through hard work in a state where they could compete and supply products to realistic mass markets.
This chart is a look backward, but our future is much more critical. Where will the new facilities and investment come from? The state is uncompetitive with an increasing amount of California-only policies, and our skilled worker pool is shrinking fast.
The state should play a role in our growth, but that role must encourage all new investment opportunities, not hurt other investments for the gain of a few. That's not how we grew in the 80's and 90's....
Gino DiCaro is vice president of communications for the California Manufacturers & Technology Association, cmta.net.