Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Reshoring Goes to the White House

by Harry Moser

On Tuesday, Jan. 3, I received an unexpected call. It was the White House.

The Commerce Department and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy had both recommended that I, Harry Moser, be included in the Jan. 11 Insourcing American Jobs forum at the White House. (Insourcing is also referred to as reshoring, backshoring, homeshoring, onshoring, backshoring, or repatriating.)

My first question was, would I be "attending" or "speaking"? Since they were unable to commit, the  details would have to be worked out in the coming days. I was able to rearrange my travel schedule and booked a flight to Washington D.C., which would then take me on to Massachusetts, Albany and New Jersey. Luckily, the change in travel didn't break the bank (most flights from D.C. to Albany are upwards of $700).

With only one day before the event, the White House confirmed that I would actively participate in the morning Roundtable and the afternoon panel, so the travel arrangements were a good investment!

I entered the Eisenhower Executive Office Building thru the Guest Entrance, passed security twice,  and was taken to the Roundtable room. Inside I found a great assemblage of business executives, cabinet members, presidents of major unions, the governor of Oregon, the mayor of Atlanta, administration leaders, and two other experts. We were also joined by Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama. Wonderful networking!

Harry Moser, (3rd from left) shakes hands with President Obama.
President Obama entered and shook hands with each of us. He said to me, “I have a question for you.” He was perfectly scripted with questions tied to each participant’s experience and knowledge. 

The President then formally started the discussion and stayed quite non-political. Attendees responded with solid data and examples, and avoided any political controversy. After all, the focus was on what could be done.

My role was to describe the importance of businesses using total cost of ownership (TCO) analysis and the fact that the online TCO Estimator database showed that while 100% of cases had far higher U.S. prices, 60% had a lower U.S. TCO. After hearing the facts, there was strong support for the use of the TCO Estimator, instead of price variance, when deciding on sourcing and investing in skilled workforce development.

The press conference was a mix of the essential content of the Roundtable and more politically motivated comments. At the end, I told the President I would send him a good reshoring line for his State of the Union address. He encouraged me to do so. And, I sent it the next morning.

The afternoon panel was much less structured than the Roundtable and led by Karen Mills, Administrator of the SBA. I provided an overview and suggestions on what SBA could to strengthen financing and the skilled workforce in the U.S. After the day's events, the SBA senior staff followed-up with me to discuss issues and opportunities in more detail.

I was honored to be included in the Insourcing American Jobs forum. Not only was I able to provide my insights on the reshoring efforts, but also inform Americans of the resources the Reshoring Initiative provides.

I look forward to pursuing joint interests with the many contacts, and to advancing reshoring and the tightly-tied issue of skilled workforce.

Harry Moser is the founder and president of The Reshoring Initiative,