Heartland Region Poised for Industrial Resurgence as Firms Consider Returning From Abroad


Today, Heartland Forward published new research, "Reshoring America: Can the Heartland Lead the Way?," which finds the U.S. poised for an industrial comeback led by the Heartland and fueled by reshoring, the return of manufacturing centers to the U.S. from abroad. The report notes growing bipartisan support for policies that bring foreign businesses home, as the Biden administration works to promote domestic manufacturing and Congress has grappled with the country's dependence upon Chinese-made personal protective equipment (PPE) during the pandemic. Moreover, 70 percent of firms say they will likely reshore in the coming years, according to a 2020 survey. For the U.S. to reclaim its manufacturing prowess, the authors call on policymakers to embrace a holistic reshoring strategy.

"Firms are starting to recognize the growing costs and dwindling benefits of offshoring," said Ross DeVol, president and CEO of Heartland Forward. "The U.S.—and especially the Heartland—is still a great place to do business."

"Decades after the U.S. lost its position as the world leader in manufacturing, the country could make a comeback, if lawmakers from both parties work together to shift the focus of our trade and industrial policies toward reshoring," said Joel Kotkin, senior fellow of Heartland Forward and principal author of the report.

While PPE shortages in the early stages of the pandemic brought attention to the dire need to bring medical manufacturing capacity home, the report stresses that reshoring is a long-term priority. The authors survey the economic evidence and find that firms increasingly need secure supply chains, easier access to key markets and a more talented, educated workforce. Heartland states offer these advantages and more, consistently ranking among the most business friendly in the nation. Six of the top 11 engineering schools are based in the Heartland, and the region offers ready access to raw materials, lower costs of doing business and shorter supply chains.

"Over the past decade, we've seen the rate of job creation due to reshoring accelerate dramatically," said David Shideler, chief economist at Heartland Forward and a co-author of the report. "Still, there must be a bipartisan effort to sustain this progress, and it must go beyond narrow measures like tariffs or bans. Investments in physical infrastructure and education, loans, grants and tax incentives for investors would all go a long way toward promoting reshoring"

Heartland Forward notes that, before the onset of the pandemic, the annual rate of job creation due to reshoring accelerated from 6,000 in 2010, to over 400,000 in 2019. The full report, including more on this trend, can be found here (pdf opens in new tab or window).

About Heartland Forward:
Heartland Forward's mission is to improve economic performance in the center of the United States by advocating for fact-based solutions to foster job creation, knowledge-based and inclusive growth and improved health outcomes. We conduct independent, data-driven research to facilitate action-oriented discussion and impactful policy recommendations.