By itself, American manufacturing in 2006 would be the eighth largest economy in the world, larger than the entire Chinese economy. Where did all this start? Not many Americans know that manufacturing has been part of America literally from the beginning. Colonists arrived in Virginia in 1607 and set up the first permanent English settlement in North America. Did you know that one of the first steps they took–in 1608–was to set up a glass-making operation, using the abundant sand in the area? I guess if they arrived today they’d make computer chips out of that same sand. The colonists needed to pay the investors back in Britain who had funded their trip and so they turned to manufacturing (and exporting). That’s why starting this year and over the next few years we will celebrate not only modern America’s 400th anniversary but also 400 years of manufacturing.
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