Walmart announced plans to bolster the American supply chain Wednesday as it committed to inject $350 billion into the U.S. manufacturing sector over the course of the next decade.
The big-box retailer said the cash infusion would support more than 750,000 new jobs across the country in an extension of its 2013 commitment to invest $250 billion in products made, grown or assembled stateside. The company is on track to deliver on its earlier promise, and has re-upped with a new program that aims to support the creation of textiles, plastics, small electrical appliances, and pharmaceutical and medical supplies, as well as food processing on American shores. The program will also back the production of Goods Not For Resale—equipment, fixtures and other products and services needed to keep Walmart’s stores up and running.
“U.S. manufacturing really matters,” Walmart U.S. president and CEO John Furner told an audience at South Carolina-based power equipment manufacturer Techtronic Industries (TTI) this week. “It matters to our suppliers, to entrepreneurs and to the environment,” as well as to the company’s customers, 85 percent of whom have deemed it important that Walmart carry products made or assembled in the U.S., he said.
Furner said Walmart’s commitment will also further its sustainability and ethics goals. The company estimated it will see a reduction of as much as 100 million metric tons of CO2 emissions due to the fact that products will be sourced closer to Walmart’s end consumers. The shift will also prompt the retailer to distribute its dollars to suppliers of diverse backgrounds from across the country.
In addition to allocating capital, Walmart also announced the launch of an effort dubbed American Lighthouses, which aims to solve some of the issues that have hindered U.S. manufacturing’s competitiveness. The company will seek to unite key stakeholders across relevant manufacturing regions, from suppliers to non-government organizations, academics, government agencies and local economic development groups to identify and overcome the sector’s roadblocks.
The announcement has drawn bipartisan support from federal officials from states that house Walmart’s suppliers. Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.) lauded the company’s efforts at TTI’s facility this week, saying, “I am passionate about bolstering the American supply chain and creating more high-paying jobs in South Carolina and for folks all across the country,” and thanking Walmart for “the great impact” it stands to have on the U.S. economy.
Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) also congratulated the company for its commitment, touting Zenith Home Corp./Maytex manufacturing, which crafts home storage solutions and accessories, as one of the state’s success stories. The company’s products have only been available in local Walmart stores, but Zenith “has been able to strengthen its operations” and extend its reach with help from the government-funded Delaware Manufacturing Extension partnership program, which provides education and resources to American businesses, Coons said. “We’re proud that Zenith’s story of investing in the U.S. is one today’s announcement aspires to replicate across the country,” he said.