As the largest retailer in not just the U.S. but the world, Walmart is playing a key role in strengthening manufacturing in America. The Bentonville, AR-based retailer is two and half years into a ten year initiative that is set to invest a total of $250 billion into American manufacturing through new orders and products.
In towns and cities across the country, the initiative has already transformed the lives of business owners and employees. Walmart recently held its annual U.S. Manufacturing Summit and Open Call, where business owners were able to connect directly with Walmart buyers and economic policymakers alike to usher in the next chapter of American manufacturing.
"I've seen first-hand the value of manufacturing products here," said President and CEO of Walmart U.S. Greg Foran. "Not only does it create jobs, but in many cases it is more efficient. Manufacturing goods closest to the point of sale allows for quicker turn-around time from factory to shelf. This is good for business, good for our customers, and good for our stores."
Over the course of the summit, Walmart facilitated roughly 1,000 meetings between business owners, buyers and economic development representatives.
Along with the Walmart leadership team and buyers, Foran met with many business owners to hear about their experiences making products in America. Over the course of the summit, Walmart facilitated roughly 1,000 meetings between business owners, buyers and economic development representatives. One meeting that stood out for Foran was with the founders of KettlePizza, an invention that turns a traditional charcoal grill into a pizza oven.
"We appreciate what Walmart's doing especially for small businesses like us — to give us a chance, that's all we wanted was a chance," said KettlePizza cofounder George Peters. "People will buy good quality American made items," added Peters who started the business in cofounder Al Contarino's barn. From the start, the pair of entrepreneurs was steadfast in keeping production stateside.
"I think they're going to change how manufacturing's done in the country," Peters said of Walmart's commitment to American manufacturing. "They're going to create jobs for people — that's what people want."
The company continues to produce its product near where the idea started in New England. Now, KettlePizza is being shipped around the world and is contributing to reducing the American trade deficit. While entrepreneurs were at the heart of Open Call, the big economic picture was discussed in detail.
"From coast to coast, America's manufacturers are the backbone of our economy, and our country's prosperity is closely linked to your success." — U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker
"From coast to coast, America's manufacturers are the backbone of our economy, and our country's prosperity is closely linked to your success," explained U.S. Secretary Of Commerce Penny Pritzker. One of Pritzker's key platforms for fostering development is the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP).
This program is designed to allocate federal resources to the most high impact manufacturing projects that help businesses and communities grow. Only a year into IMCP, thousands of new jobs have already been created with millions in investment. Pritzker announced 12 new communities that would receive IMCP funding at the summit.
"Through smart programs like IMCP, Manufacturing Day, and more, the Department of Commerce is committed to being your partners as this vital sector of economy continues its remarkable resurgence," Pritzker added. "Working together, we can ensure America's manufacturers remain at the center of our nation's prosperity and keep America open for your businesses."
Over the course of the summit, the many entrepreneurs that came to showcase their products and inventions weren't just representing their own dreams; they were representing the hopes of their communities. As American manufacturing grows, so do the economies of the towns and cities around them. Perhaps Foran summed it up best:
"Growth in our GDP lifts us all. That growth comes supplier by supplier and item by item." With that in mind, there's no doubt that Walmart is leading the charge in American manufacturing.