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Retail’s leading an American renewal

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Today I had the pleasure of representing NRF at the U.S. Manufacturing Summit in Orlando, Florida—an event where we partnered with Walmart to find ways for the retail industry to manufacture more of the goods we sell right here in the United States.

In January, we were proud that Walmart chose Retail's BIG Show to announce its initiative to buy an additional $50 billion in U.S. manufactured products over the next ten years to sell in its stores.

In recent years, rising labor, energy and shipping costs have caused a shift in global sourcing that is making the United States a more attractive place to manufacture the goods that retailers sell in their stores all across the country. Retail is in a special position to lead as our industry already supports 1 in 4 jobs and adds $2.4 trillion to GDP. When we as an industry make changes, it has a big impact.

Domestic sourcing creates good paying jobs for workers who will spend more in our stores, benefiting retailers of all kinds. Many retailers across the country have already begun seizing these opportunities, and dozens more are anxious to know what’s possible.

Take Brooks Brothers. They bought a plant in Massachusetts several years ago and now make 70 percent of their suits there. Employment at that factory in Massachusetts has increased from 300 to 475 workers in a few short years. They also make 100 percent of their ties in New York and 15 percent of their shirts in North Carolina. These are good retail jobs.

Look at Apple. They will be onshoring some of the assembly process for their Mac Pros at various locations through the south.

And General Electric, who makes so many products sold in NRF’s members’ stores, is investing $1 billion through 2014 to revitalize its U.S. appliances business and create more than 1,500 U.S. jobs.

Retailers of all sizes are engaged and ready in this endeavor to make this renewal in American manufacturing a lasting and powerful one. They are not waiting…they are acting, and looking to do more where it makes sense. This is good for retailers, manufacturers, the consumer, and most importantly…it is good for the long-term strength of our economy.

It represents retail at its best…advancing careers, strengthening communities and spurring the innovation that will bring about the next great era in retail.