Walmart Holds Manufacturing Summit

WalmartORLANDO, Fla.-Walmart hosted its summit meeting to advance the renewal of U.S. manufacturing here yesterday, with almost 1,500 government officials and supplier executives in attendance.

The summit, which was held at the Orlando Convention Center and which included sessions on bolstering U.S. manufacturing, was part of the retailer’s commitment to purchase an additional $50 billion in U.S.-made products over the next 10 years. The attendees included representatives of 500 supplier companies, retail executives and officials from 32 state governments including several governors.

One of the speakers was U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, who said the department is “leading the administration’s efforts to support American manufacturing and expand our exports.” Another speaker was Jeff Immelt, chairman and CEO of GE, which is investing in the domestic manufacture of GE Energy Efficient Soft White bulbs, which will be sold exclusively at Walmart U.S. stores. This effort “builds on the history of collaboration between GE and Walmart, and reinforces our belief that manufacturing is a competitive advantage, allowing U.S. companies to compete and win in every corner of the world.”

In his remarks, Bill Simon, president and CEO of Walmart U.S., said the nation needs to rebuild its manufacturing base to compete more effectively in the global economy and to restore jobs to the middle class. “America can’t be a service economy. We have to make things,” Simon said.

He underscored the company’s promise to work with suppliers that are looking to increase their U.S. manufacturing. “We’ve appointed a senior team to lead this effort,” he said. “And we’ve decided we will sign longer-term purchase agreements when it makes sense to give manufacturers more certainty.” Regarding the $50 billion commitment, Simon said, “If we put our minds to it, there’s no question to me that we can achieve it and exceed it.”