A New Era for Manufacturing

Manufacturing is experiencing a paradigm shift. As American consumers find it harder to obtain foreign-made products because of global supply-chain issues, businesses are reconsidering the benefits of having factories outside of North America.

Instead, making their products closer to domestic markets now seems more sustainable. In a Crain’s Chicago Business column, columnist Brooke Sutherland explains that “the pressures of COVID have forced companies big and small to reevaluate how resilient their manufacturing operations truly are, and many have concluded they need to have factories closer to home.” Accordingly, companies such as U.S. Steel Corp and Peloton Interactive Inc. are planning to build new facilities in the U.S., signaling a reversal of offshoring.

Demographic shifts abroad also factor into where businesses locate their factories. “China’s once-in-a-decade census survey released earlier this year showed the country’s working-age population was declining as a percentage of the overall total. Labor costs, meanwhile, are rising,” Sutherland writes in her Bloomberg column. But robots—or factory-floor automation—have become a popular workforce alternative. And automation is just as affordable and effective in the U.S. as it is in China or elsewhere, giving manufacturers another reason to establish stateside factories.

However, putting robots into use requires sophisticated infrastructure, much of which isn’t available yet. Alter has spent decades developing industrial real estate that already has the technology needed to facilitate automation. For example, Alter’s Cornerstone in Grayslake, a planned 641-acre mixed-use development, will include multiple amenities for its prospective manufacturing tenants. The project accommodates state-of-the-art cooling systems to regulate temperature, including water-based technology which benefits from Lake County’s cost-effective and plentiful water supply.

Also, Cornerstone’s location near Chicago makes it ideal for tenants aiming to get their products to major markets quickly and efficiently. Locating at Cornerstone means being connected to the national and global supply chain to better integrate your products, routes, vehicles and facilities. Cornerstone is centrally located with Lake Michigan to the east, Chicago to the south, and Milwaukee to the north with one of the region’s most sophisticated transportation and technology infrastructures.