Having a strong domestic manufacturing base is vital to the United States maintaining its world leadership in innovation.
I've heard people in Michigan and Ohio talk about the need to reclaim US based manufacturing. Seeing and experiencing the impact of GM, Ford and Chrysler on the systemic health of the US economy, and the moderation of hubris in these organization, is convincing, as is Willy Shih's essay. Manufacturing is also quite different than it was in the 50s.
GM's Akerson also has a bit to say about the politized nature of the car industry's recovery. It's helpful to review his perspective.
Excerpted from Willy Shih's blog:
Manufacturing provides the foundation for many kinds of innovations. If manufacturing processes are immature or the know-how needed to develop the product or process to produce the product is tacit and not well codified, you cannot innovate in a country if the factories are on the other side of the world.
R&D and manufacturing must be located close to each other so their people can together figure out how to develop a product that can be manufactured at a cost and level of quality that will make it a commercial success.
Source: Willy C. Shih is a professor of management practice at Harvard Business School. Prior to joining HBS, he spent 28 years in the IT and consumer electronics industry, where he worked as an executive at Thomson, Kodak, IBM, Digital Equipment, and Silicon Graphics.