Who’s Investing In America This Christmas?

Not all American manufacturers are off-shoring or closing down, and with the holiday gift-buying getting more frenzied, we ought to keep them in mind.

With the growth of movements like Small Business Saturday, which tried to influence Americans to avoid retail giants like Wal-Mart over the Thanksgiving weekend, it seems that more people are concerned about the origins — and economic impact — of their purchases. And it seems that despite the economy, the average American is ready to spend as usual this shopping season, so it’s not a bad idea to get informed on what items actually have some impact on our own country.

In order to make this a little easier, I’ve compiled the stories of a few companies that have recently announced major investments in American manufacturing. Naturally, this is not meant to be a comprehensive list, but rather a starting point.

New Kicks

Have a sartorially-inclined member of the family? You know, the one who works at a casual office but insists upon wearing a nice shirt and tie anyway? They would probably appreciate a new pair of shoes, and it would be harder to get much better in terms of quality than Allen Edmonds. The high-end shoemaker is renowned for its craftsmanship and dedication to its workforce inPort Washington,Wisconsin.

In fact, the company recently announced that they were breaking the common approach to shoemaking in theU.S. It’s well-known that most shoe companies have their products produced in China and import them for sale to American consumers. Allen Edmonds is going the opposite route: They’re going to ramp up production at their Wisconsin plant and export those shoes straight to China. If sales are good, their local workforce of 330 could double in the next decade. Perhaps that level of dedication to American jobs ought to be commended with a nice pair of wingtips.

Sticking With the Classics

Carhartt is a legendary name when it comes to outwear for those who rough it at work or on the weekends. The company announced a few months ago that it is adding 150 jobs to its Hanson, Ky. facility after it upgrades the manufacturing technology there. Like Allen Edmonds, Carhartt is continuing to show that manufacturing certain verticals — in this case, textiles — is viable in the U.S. The company currently runs 13 manufacturing facilities in the country, and it doesn’t seem that will change any time soon.

And considering the variety of goods the company offers, it would be hard not to find a good gift for someone on your list.

Lounging Around

Furniture-maker Southern Motion recently announced a $3 million investment in a vacant 192,500-square-foot building inBaldwyn,Miss. to build a new line of recliners. The company says the investment will create 150 jobs in the area to go along with the 915 jobs the company already has at itsPontotoc,Miss. plant. If you’ve worn out that old recliner from too many football Sundays, maybe it’s time to take a look at their selection.

Who Buys a Car for Christmas?

You’ve probably seen those Lexus commercials that try to get you to buy your spouse a new car — with a big red bow on top, of course — for Christmas. For those who can actually afford to do something like this (lucky you!) there’s better options than a Lexus if you’re looking to have an impact on the local economy. Simply put, it’s hard to beat a Ford.

The website America’s Got Product tracks a number of product categories, and the individual offerings within each, based on their local economic impact. According to their research, Ford easily ranks among the best in terms of employing American manufacturing workers and keeping corporate profits local to the Michigan economy. GM and Chrysler vehicles also rank well, but many may prefer to stick with the 1/3 of the Big 3 that didn’t take a bailout. Considering that Ford also recently announced more investment in an Ohio plant, it’s hard to argue otherwise. Once the renovations are complete, the company will shift medium-duty truck production from Mexico to Avon Lake.

Need a Buzz?

For many, the holiday season is about sleeping in, but for the early birds, there’s never a break in the coffee consumption. The coffee company Green Mountain Coffee announced back in September that it will invest $180 million in aVirginia facility that will house coffee roasting, grinding, flavoring and packing operations, along with distribution. That plant will eventually create 800 jobs in an area that’s been in dire straits since nearby International Paper closed its plant and laid off 1,100 employees in 2009. While the coffee certainly is not grown inAmerica (save for a Kona blend, maybe), it’s a bit of solace that its import has such a strong economic impact here in the States.

… Maybe A Different Kind of Buzz?

For others, like myself, the holidays are also a great time to try out America’s fantastic and wide-ranging selection of craft beers. Yes, there’s a bit of snobbery in the more expensive ales, not unlike wine or good liquor, but that shouldn’t stop anyone from trying out something new from the cooler. This is especially true when one considers that all the profits will stay here in the U.S., not travel overseas to a multi-national conglomerate like SAB Miller or Anheuser-Busch InBev.

Stone Brewing is based out of Escondido, Calif., and currently employs 355 people. The company distributes their beer to 37 states, and has been growing at a double-digit pace since they opened their doors in 1996. Back in May, the company’s executives announced a $26.6 million expansion, which includes a larger production facility, an expansive beer garden with 40 taps, a produce farm, and even a 50-room hotel. Sounds like heaven to me.

All in all, the new project will create 250 jobs, and like always, all profits will stay right in the area. On top of all that, they make a selection of fantastic brews. Keep an eye out for Arrogant Bastard and the classic Stone Pale Ale. They’re also hiring, in case you’re interested.

Shop Smart

As I mentioned before, this is by no means an exhaustive list of what American-based companies have to offer. Feel free to add your own favorites in the comments section below.

The point is that there’s a multitude of American-friendly businesses out there that are currently investing in the well-being of the country, and instead of dropping a bunch of cash (or swiping a credit card) on a bunch of gifts made in who-knows-where, maybe it’s time to keep things close to home.

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