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Talent Talk: Welcome to the Titanium Economy

After taking a “week off” to spotlight the jaw-dropping number of new US factories being built, this is a continuation of the tremendous story that US manufacturing is writing. Thus far we have discovered that we are in what is commonly referred to as Industry 4.0, and that factors like reshoring and government incentives are reviving domestic growth.

In The Titanium Economy, authors Asutosh Padhi, Gaurav Batra, and Nick Santhanam lay out the case that it is industrial America that will lead the way in the next wave of growth and prosperity. For over a decade, the headlines, the hot stocks, and the dream jobs were somewhere in Silicon Valley with companies like Apple, Google, Amazon, Netflix, or Facebook.

Plastics industry embedded in ‘titanium economy’

The authors looked at 35 industrial companies as being a small sample of what they have dubbed the “titanium economy.” They include a variety of industries, with plastics being well represented. They specifically highlight Sealed Air and Trex, for example.

Over the next few years, they see the creation of 2.4 million jobs within the industrial sector, and those jobs on average will pay twice what a comparable job in the service sector will pay. Overall, they project that the titanium economy will add 15% to US gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030.

The Simpsonville story

One of the beautiful parts of the growth coming from the industrial sector is that it does not need to be located on the east coast, the west coast, or other major cities.

Post WWII, the Simpsonville, SC, area was known for apparel making. By the 1960s, those jobs were gone, primarily to southeast Asia. In 1973, Michelin became aware that there was a skilled workforce in the town and built a production facility there. That factory created around 2,000 jobs, but also formed the foundation for an ecosystem with business-friendly government policies and an educational consortium.

Companies like BMW, Bridgestone, and Caterpillar moved there. You can also find Sealed Air, H.B. Fuller, and Milliken in the area, which is now known as the Golden Strip. Since 1990, 145,000 jobs have been added in the area.

And not to pick on anyone, but the cost of living in Simpsonville is 73% less than Cupertino.

About the author

Paul Sturgeon is CEO of KLA Industries, a national search firm specializing in plastics, packaging, and polymer technology. If you have a topic you would like to see discussed, a company that is growing, or other ideas for this blog, e-mail Sturgeon at [email protected].

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