Siemens CEO says U.S. manufacturing poised for comeback

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Eric Spiegel, president and CEO of Siemens' U.S. subsidiary, said the United States is poised for a manufacturing renaissance during his visit to campus Thursday (Jan. 24) to mark a new agreement with Penn State.

Spiegel's remarks came during a presentation on innovation and entrepreneurship Thursday to engineering students titled "The Need for 'Real' Engineering in America."

He said a "re-industrialization" of the country is happening with the rebirth of the energy and manufacturing sectors.

"We're not number one anymore, but manufacturing is growing in the U.S.," he said.

The Youngstown, Ohio, native said three factors are fueling the return of manufacturing in America: cheap energy, rising worker productivity in the U.S. and advanced manufacturing.

Spiegel said the abundance of cheap natural gas is providing manufacturers with not only an economical energy source, but also an inexpensive feedstock for other products and industries. "If you told me five years ago that we'd be building new chemical plants in this country, I would have laughed. Now we're building dozens of new chemical plants."

The traditional view that manufacturing is cheaper overseas is changing, he said. Increased U.S. worker productivity, coupled with rising costs to build overseas, have made manufacturing in America much more appealing, Spiegel said.

"The U.S. is the least risky place in the world to do business," he said.

Finally, the emergence of advanced manufacturing has given the country an edge over foreign competitors.

"A lot of jobs that left the U.S. aren't coming back," Spiegel said. "And we don’t want them back. We don't want the low-paying $5 per hour jobs. We want better jobs."

He said, "We think the time is right to bring manufacturing back to the U.S. In the end, we have to make things -- make things well and make things of value."

Spiegel's visit kicks off a strategic partnership between Siemens and Penn State. The alliance -- the first of its kind between Siemens and an American university -- includes research collaborations, an enhanced recruiting relationship and engagement across a range of University programs.

The agreement between Penn State and Siemens, signed late last year, includes collaborations in health care, infrastructure, energy, people development and sustainability.

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Last Updated February 08, 2013