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Macro events drive interest in reshoring, nearshoring production – Furniture Today

Macro events drive interest in reshoring, nearshoring production - Furniture Today

Rosemary Coates said the reshoring movement offers more security in a frenetic supply chain environment.

By Powell Slaughter, Contributing Editor

WILMINGTON, N.C. — Changes posing risks to the global supply chain during the past 10 years are spurring moves to bring manufacturing back to the United States, or at least North America.

That was the take during a presentation at the AHFA Logistics Conference by Rosemary Coates, president of Blue Silk Consulting and executive director of the Reshoring Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization she founded in 2014 focusing on expansion of U.S. manufacturing. She discussed the potential opportunities for furniture manufacturers looking to produce goods and source materials closer to home.

Coates called the 2012 U.S. presidential election, when both major candidates claimed commitment to bringing jobs back to the United States, as the catalyst of the reshoring movement.

Since then, macro events have spurred the trend. Examples cited include geo-politics, China-bashing in America and a corresponding reaction from Xu Xinping in China; global counterfeiting of products; lean manufacturing processes such as just-in-time inventories at greater risk to long supply chains; the rise of ethno-centrism; trade wars including the Trump administration tariffs; and now the lingering coronavirus pandemic.

She noted that several industries already face critical shortages of rare earths and neon gas (electronics and semi-conductors), and pharmaceutical building blocks that have been sourced abroad for years due to lower operations costs in places such as China. Coates said rare earths are found worldwide but are more expensive to extract here.

“In the U.S., we tend to let the market rule, but if we can’t make our own building blocks for pharmaceuticals, we can’t make antibiotics in North America,” she said, if those products are delayed or not available via the global supply chain.

Furniture makers have been plagued by similar shortages of mechanisms, kits, textiles and other inputs sourced offshore during the past two years.

Reshoring takes more than just shifting production to make economic sense, and Coates offered examples of what works and what doesn’t.

General Electric engineers, for example, developed a specific product for U.S. manufacture — the Geospring on-demand water heater targeting a higher end market — that commanded a price making its more expensive domestic production feasible. The company re-opened GE Appliance Park in Lousville, Ky., after a 20-year closure, utilizing new automated and highly engineered production lines.

“They put 4,000 people back to work in Louisville by developing a product that can be manufactured in the U.S.,” Coates said.

She offered the case of Otis Elevator as a reshoring failure. The company brought a production line back from Mexico in 2012 when it opened a new plant in Florence, S.C.

“It was highly automated, but they couldn’t find skilled workers,” Coates said, adding there was no partnering with local schools and colleges for worker training. It didn’t help that the opening was concurrent with an ERP implementation. Production delays cost Otis $60 million in lost business.

“If you are going to reshore, you need to know what sort of products you can make, who’s going to run it and what skills you’re going to need,” Coates said.

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Washington Black events aim to connect production crew with Black Nova Scotian communities | CBC News

Washington Black events aim to connect production crew with Black Nova Scotian communities | CBC News

The showrunner of a TV series based on Esi Edugyan’s novel Washington Black says shooting in Nova Scotia for the past few months has felt like coming home.

Selwyn Seyfu Hinds, who is also a writer and executive producer on the Disney+ series, called Nova Scotia “one of the most gorgeous places” he’s ever shot. He also said the cast and crew have particularly appreciated connecting with local communities.

“Being able to tangibly touch and feel the Black Nova Scotian community here, which is such an important part of the book and important part of the show,” he told CBC Radio’s Information Morning on Friday.

“A barber cut my hair one day and just casually mentions that his family have been here for 500 years.”

Listen to Selwyn Seyfu Hinds’s full interview with Portia Clark:

Information Morning – NS10:17Washington Black production wraps in NS

The novel Washington Black follows a young Black man, George Washington Black — Wash for short — on an extraordinary series of adventures after he flees his former life as a slave on a sugar plantation in Barbados.

Wash’s journey takes him all over the world, but one of his first stops is Nova Scotia.

The TV adaptation of Edugyan’s story began shooting in the province in March, including in Lunenburg, The Ovens, Mount Uniacke and Halifax. It’s expected to wrap up production here next week.

Edugyan told CBC News in a recent interview that she wanted to show the complexities of Black settlement in Nova Scotia.

Esi Edugyan is the author of Washington Black. (CBC)

The character of Wash expects Nova Scotia to be a haven for him, given Canada’s connection to slavery as being the last stop on the Underground Railroad.

“He’s going into it, expecting to find that he’s fully accepted and greeted,” Edugyan explains, “and that ends up not being the case. He finds that this is a place of great fractiousness.”

The migration of Black Loyalists during the American Civil War made Shelburne, the town where Wash takes refuge in her book, the site of the largest colony of free Black people outside of Africa at the time.

However, as a result of the racism and discrimination the Black Loyalists faced, Shelburne was also where Canada’s first recorded race riots took place in 1784.

Will the Black community benefit?

An open letter written by Shekara Grant, a founding member of the Change is Brewing Collective, and posted on Instagram in February expressed concerns about people profiting from this difficult history without sharing the benefits with, or addressing the current problems facing the community the story is about.

Grant’s letter questions the inclusion and consultation of Black Nova Scotians in the show’s production planning. She wrote that while it’s important to share their stories of historic inequality, the Black community of south Shelburne is still dealing with environmental racism.

Since 2016, a group called the South End Environmental Injustice Society (SEED) has been lobbying unsuccessfully for access to uncontaminated drinking water.

From left: Actors Sterling K. Brown and Iola Evans, showrunner Selwyn Seyfu Hinds, Dwayne Provo with the Office of African Nova Scotian Affairs, director Wanuri Kahiu and actor Ernest Kingsley Jr. (Adams Photography)

When asked about these concerns, Hinds said, “I wanted to be able to come to this community and make and leave a tangible difference as much as I could.”

Hinds said his team has hired Black Nova Scotian background actors and crew members. In order to engage and involve the community, the production is hosting a series of events called Washington Black Talks.

“No single production can change the entire face of things, but I certainly think we’ve been able to have a substantial impact here,” Hinds said.

Washington Black Talks

Hinds said the events are open to the public, and a chance to meet and have open conversations with himself, other Black writers, actors and co-executive producer and star actor Sterling K. Brown.

While not exactly consultation events, he hopes having direct access to Black people who are making a living in Hollywood will make the dream more accessible for Black Nova Scotians who are also interested in careers in the industry.

“[It’s] just us talking to the community,” Hinds said. “I can tell you personally that my own path, what I’m doing now, didn’t come about until I met a director, Mr. Reggie Hudlin, who looked like me.”

The next Washington Black Talks event is Sunday, June 19, at the Black Cultural Centre in Cherry Brook from 1 to 3 p.m. AT.

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

Being Black in Canada highlights stories about Black Canadians. (CBC)