From 1980 to 2005 the nation saw a decline in manufacturing employment as companies moved overseas for lower cost production. In the 1990s the U.S. military began a large-scale reduction of military bases, and in the 2000s the country experienced a significant recession that stalled virtually all business growth. As a result of these events, many communities found themselves with a large amount of unemployment, reduced tax revenue and to top it off, vacant lots, large empty buildings and brownfields (abandoned, idled, or underused industrial or commercial facilities).
In the last several years there have been some significant changes occurring in the manufacturing and distribution industries that are helping to reverse this trend and boost local economies:
- Manufacturing and distribution companies have increased their focus on saving money through shortened supply chains, which requires them to build facilities closer to U.S. consumers.
- Labor remains flat in the U.S. but is increasing in developing countries, making offshoring less profitable. As a result, many firms are bringing production back home.
“Over the last few years here at ATI we have seen an increase in projects for manufacturing and distribution companies,” said Phillip Caires, Director of Special Projects, “These projects are especially rewarding for our team because they directly help local communities grow their economy with jobs, tax revenue and in some cases revitalizing entire areas.”
An example of this impact can be found with ATI’s project for Sysco Food Services. Working with ATI, Sysco completed the construction of a 500,000-square-foot facility, one of the largest foodservice plants in the southern California region, located centrally across from March Air Force Base off Interstate 215 in Riverside County. The distribution center combines 185,000 square feet of dry warehouse with 240,000 square feet of cold storage to house more than 12,000 individual and specialty items and 750,000 cases of product for distribution. It includes two business review and test kitchens, encompassing 3,000-square-feet, and houses state-of-the-art kitchen equipment, from blast chiller freezers to turbo ovens[i].
Sysco Riverside created permanent jobs, including those in management, sales, customer service, administrative, credit analysts, buyers, chefs, culinary associates, drivers, mechanics and warehouse workers. Many of the construction materials and labor for the building came from the local area including masonry, concrete, wall coverings, insulation, air-control system, fencing and steel contractors.
“It is easy to overlook the importance of manufacturing and distribution facilities when you are thinking about economic development,” said Caires. “Yet countless communities have benefited from the construction of local manufacturing plants and distribution centers in the past few years. We are happy to play a key part in bringing these projects to life.”