America’s Mittelstand 美国中小企业
Advanced manufacturing can thrive, as Grand Rapids shows
New-style production line MIDWESTERNERS STILL like to make stuff. Manufacturing may have slid, but they do more of it than other Americans. In Indiana, it makes up 29% of gross state product (and employs 17% of workers). In Michigan it is 19% (and 14% of jobs). In each of the “core” eight states, it is above the national average of 12% of GDP. Companies plug into supply chains for car, aviation and retail industries, or for medical equipment, machine parts and the energy industry. Older-style work, such as furniture-making, persists.
Yet the mass employment of low-skilled workers has largely gone. That hurts those diverted to low-paid work in services. Tony Flora, a union leader in South Bend, asks “How can you provide a middle-class way of life if the jobs are serving omelettes in a restaurant?” Harvard’s Edward Glaeser observes that, as recently as 2000, manufacturing was the largest employer nationally of lower-skilled workers. Now it is one of the smallest.
不过，大规模雇用低技能工人的情形已经基本上看不到了。这伤害了那些改行从事服务业低薪工作的人。南本德的工会领袖托尼·弗洛拉（Tony Flora）问道：“如果大家的工作都是在餐厅里端煎蛋卷，你怎么给他们提供中产阶级的生活方式？”哈佛大学的爱德华·格莱泽（Edward Glaeser）指出，近在2000年时，制造业还是全美最大的低技能工人雇主，现在已经是最小之一。
Paul Krugman, an economist, suggests that rising economic nationalism, confrontation with China and pandemic-induced anxiety over supply chains could nudge some manufacturing back to the Midwest. Sherrod Brown, a senator from Ohio, sees this as a golden opportunity. Any recovery would be centred on those with skills in science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM). Bruce Katz and Jeremy Nowak from Brookings say STEM-related jobs (mostly in manufacturing) are better paid than average, employing 9% of Americans but contributing 17% of GDP.
经济学家保罗·克鲁格曼（Paul Krugman）认为，经济民族主义发酵、与中国的对抗，以及新冠疫情引发的对供应链的焦虑，可能会推动一些制造业渐渐回流到中西部。俄亥俄州参议员谢罗德·布朗（Sherrod Brown）视之为千载难逢的机会。任何制造业复苏都将集中在那些拥有理工科（STEM）相关技能的人身上。布鲁金斯学会的布鲁斯·卡茨（Bruce Katz）和杰里米·诺瓦克（Jeremy Nowak）表示，STEM相关工作（主要集中在制造业中）的薪资高于平均水平，雇用了9%的美国人，却贡献了GDP的17%。
Training does not have to mean four-year degrees. Instead what is needed are vocational skills that can be taught simultaneously by companies and colleges. Scot McLemore, of Honda, praises the community college in Columbus, Ohio, noting that “there are no more skilled trades, we need multi-craft technicians”, such as the computer savvy. David Harrison, who leads the college, says his 60 trainees study for two days a week in class and work for three at a firm. “Five years ago there was no path for this, now 30 manufacturers are in the programme.” It is an attempt at a German-style apprenticeship scheme.
培训不一定意味着四年制学位。相反，所需要的是可以由企业和大学同时传授的职业技能。本田汽车公司的斯科特·麦克勒莫尔（Scot McLemore）赞美俄亥俄州哥伦布市的社区大学，指出“熟练工种已经不存在了，我们需要多才多艺的技术人员”，比如精通计算机的人。该校主管戴维·哈里森（David Harrison）说，他的60名学员每周在课堂上学习两天，在公司工作三天。“五年前这一切还不可能，现在已经有30家制造商参与进来。”这是一种类似德国学徒制的尝试。
How can Midwesterners develop more advanced manufacturing? An example of what to avoid is in Mount Pleasant village, in southern Wisconsin. A 20m-square-foot factory complex, planned in the past two years, belongs to Foxconn, a Taiwanese giant. In 2018 Donald Trump, wielding a golden shovel, vowed it would be the “eighth wonder of the world”, employing 13,000 factory workers on high wages. Supposedly Wisconsin’s economy would gain $51bn over 15 years. He talked less about promises to Foxconn of billions of dollars in subsidies.
The project always had a Potemkin air. It was a mystery what Foxconn would make, though television screens were talked of. It was rushed through as the showpiece of a manufacturing renaissance in a swing state. But Tim Bartik, at the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research in Michigan, says it was misconceived. The subsidies were ten times bigger than usual as a share of future wages, suggesting the underlying economics made no sense. Foxconn now talks of innovation and research instead.
A better example, says Mr Bartik, is Grand Rapids, Michigan, “the most successful intensive manufacturing city in America”. It once made furniture and car parts, but since 1985 has been transformed by a project called “the Right Place”. Change came from the ground up, starting with 13 businesspeople from banks and philanthropy, including the Van Andel and De Vos families, who wanted to make their home more attractive. The early idea was to get existing firms to stay, but later it became to lure newcomers. The burghers first restored the town centre. They built a 12,000-seat arena that hosted big-name performers like Elton John. Hotels, restaurants, coffee bars and other entertainment flourished. Students flocked in. The Van Andels set up the Van Andel Institute, a bioscience cluster. Michigan State University opened a big medical school to train health-care staff. Michigan Tech University set up a branch.
巴尔季克说，一个更好的样本是密歇根州的大急流城（Grand Rapids）——“美国最成功的密集型制造业城市”。它曾经制造家具和汽车零部件，但自1985年起被一个名为“适宜地”（the Right Place）的项目改天换地。改造从零开始，由来自银行和慈善业的13位商人发起，包括范安德尔（Van Andel）和狄维士（De Vos）家族，他们希望自己的家园变得更具吸引力。一开始的想法是让现有企业留下来，后来变成了吸引外来者。市民们首先重建了市中心。他们盖了一个1.2万座的体育馆，请来埃尔顿·约翰（Elton John）等著名表演者。酒店、餐厅、咖啡馆和其他娱乐场所蓬勃发展。学生们蜂拥而至。范安德尔家族创建了范安德尔研究所（Van Andel Institute）这个生物科学集群。密歇根州立大学设立一个大型医学院来培训医护人员。密歇根理工大学在这里开设了分校。
Manufacturers were pressed to modernise. Birgit Klohs, a German transplant who has run the Right Place since 1987, says “We’re still a manufacturing centre, like the Mittelstand. The bulk of our success is in advanced manufacturing, in family-owned, mid-sized firms in their third or fourth generation of ownership, just like in Germany.” She seeks foreign ideas. In the 1980s a Japanese adviser showed car-suppliers Toyota’s lean techniques. She leads forays to Germany to study “Industry 4.0” (high tech in factories) or Israel to see how to work with startups.
As important, foreign investors are urged to come to Grand Rapids. Again, the German connection helps. She says there are 136 foreign companies, including 50 from her former homeland. The city “makes a point of attracting foreign, especially German” firms, she says, “as we saw something in common”. The results are exceptional. The Grand Rapids metro area has more than 1m residents today, up from 740,000 in 2000. New types of manufacturers flourish, such as makers of medical devices and equipment. Ms Klohs’s group lists 79 suppliers of personal protective gear, such as face shields, masks, hand-sanitisers, swabs and more, currently in high demand.
The city is a model for deployment of social capital. Researchers have tried to understand why some collaborative efforts succeed but not others. Part of the answer is that, as with the Mittelstand, many firms in the Midwest are owned by families with a passion for their home towns. Mr Katz says Midwesterners benefit from a “deep commitment to place”. He notes how many institutions with huge endowments there are, including MacArthur in Chicago, Heinz in Pittsburgh, the Cleveland Foundation and the Howard G. Buffett (son of Warren) foundation in Decatur.
这座城市是社会资本部署的典范。研究人员过去一直试图弄明白为什么有些协作成功了，有些却没有。答案一部分在于，和德国的中小企业一样，中西部的许多企业都是由对故乡充满深情的家庭拥有的。卡茨说，中西部人受益于一种“对地方的全心奉献”。他指出那里有众多拥有巨额捐赠的机构，包括芝加哥的麦克阿瑟基金会（MacArthur）、匹兹堡的亨氏家族基金会（Heinz）、克利夫兰基金会（Cleveland Foundation）和位于迪凯特市、由巴菲特的儿子运营的霍华德·巴菲特基金会（Howard G. Buffett Foundation）。
One research paper contrasts the fortunes of Allentown in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, with the dim outcomes in Youngstown, Ohio, in the years since the 1970s. In Allentown the main concern, as in Grand Rapids, was to create conditions so firms would stay and grow. In Youngstown (as with Foxconn in Wisconsin) there was a narrower focus on helping a particular industry, in its case steel. The long slog of creating the right eco-system seems more likely to pay off than the short-term effort to pick a winner in a declining business.