Talking Turkey

By September 16, 2006Taking It for Granted

Blog-Icon-MI.jpgThe Thursday Wall Street Journal’s front page story was about boat building in, of all places, Turkey. Silicon Valley entrepreneur Tom Perkins had his $80 milllion clipper, The Maltese Falcon, built at shipyards in Tuzla, Turkey.

What was most interesting about this story is that Turkey is positioning itself to be a manufacturing nation, and boat-building is only part of the picture. Furniture, denim, jewelry and other skilled trades are blossoming in different parts of Turkey. These specialized niches are creating new job opportunities and transforming Turkey into more of a manufacturing and services economy. Those two sectors have eclipsed agriculture as the largest GDP contributors. Turkey is attractive not only because wages are lower there, but because they have built an infrastructure of skilled workers, including engineers, who are eager for new challenges like this.

It’s no wonder that Turkey would encourage these trends, because these new manufacturing clusters “have spawned subcontractors and suppliers around them…” We know that manufacturing has the largest mulitiplier effect of any industry and the Turks are finding this to be true as well. If you want to see what manufacturing means for the United States and the potent multiplier effect here at home, just check out our recent report, US Manufacturing Innovation At Risk (click here).

What is to wonder about is why elected officials in the U.S. don’t see these links and act on them. Congress still dawdles on extending an R&D tax credit, something that should have been made permanent long ago. The American Competitiveness Initiative, proposed by the President last winter, has yet to reach his desk. Not enough has been done to provide a more secure and lower cost energy platform for US manufacturing. Other countries are trying to steal a march on US manufacturing and they will succeed if we don’t take the right policy steps to bolster manufacturing at home.

Tack that jib!