May 9, 2017
Apple Fund Plans to Support Manufacturing Jobs
In the recent Presidential election, the concept of “bringing back” manufacturing jobs played a big role, both in the rhetoric and the outcome. Some say that was all smoke and mirrors, that old school assembly line manufacturing isn’t coming back anytime soon, and if it does, ever, it will be robots, not people, doing the assembly.
As that debate continues in coal country and the Rust Belt, over in Silicon Valley, at least one big name international company is talking about what manufacturing should look like in the 21st Century. And Apple CEO Tim Cook says he plans to do more than talk about it.
Apple is donating one billion dollars to a fund that aims to create a cutting edge manufacturing infrastructure in the United States. Apple has already created more than two million American jobs, and the CEO says they’re committed to creating even more.
Quoted in CNN, Cook said: “By doing that we can be the ripple in the pond… If we can create many manufacturing jobs, those manufacturing jobs create more jobs around them because you have a service industry that builds up around them… You can see, we’re really looking at this thing deeply. How do we grow our employee base? How do we grow our developer base? And how do we grow manufacturing?”
From a PR perspective, leading from the front is an important optic. You don’t want to be seen as the brand that is always playing catch up, trying to hang onto the coattails of companies that are running while you stumble along behind them. That said, you don’t want to be so much of a futurist that consumers can’t catch the vision and walk with you.
After some notorious missteps in the 80s and early 90s, Apple bounced back, proving itself very good at knowing how far to innovate to allow consumers to keep up and stay excited.
That has to be about more than “growing the developer base.” Cook and Apple have to find a way to build things people want and are willing to pay for. One of the biggest reasons a lot of the manufacturing left the States in the first place was cost cutting. People were only willing to pay so much, and companies had the obligation to turn a profit, so they needed to find cheaper labor.
So, what can be built here that Joe and Jane American Consumer will be willing to pay for? A lot, really. But the devil is in the details. Companies can talk a good game, and even promising money like Apple is — won’t get it done. Americans want more manufacturing jobs here, but they’re in “wait and see” mode. The company that delivers on these promises stands to benefit a great deal in the coming years.