- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 27, 2004

As the U.S. economy rebounds from this century’s first recession, there has been much discussion of the outsourcing of jobs to other countries by domestic companies. Just this week, Forrester Research issued an updated forecast that predicted 3.4 million jobs would be outsourced by the year 2015. However, as the president of AgustaWestland Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of one of the world’s largest helicopter manufacturers, I can say that in most cases these conversations are missing half the picture.

There’s no question about it: American companies are continuing a long-running trend by moving jobs overseas. However, America enjoys a number of advantages that limit the scope of this movement. We have a stable political and economic environment, an unmatched system of higher education, one of the most productive work forces in the world, and significant advantages in information technology spending and utilization. For these reasons and more, when American companies look to outsource, they keep most of the best, highest-paying jobs here.

But there’s even more to the story. At the same time that some jobs are being moved out of the country, foreign companies have been “insourcing” by creating new jobs here at an even faster rate. According to the D.C.-based Organization for International Investment, in the last 15 years total insourced jobs grew at an annual rate of 7.8 percent, while total outsourced jobs grew by just 3.8 percent. U.S. subsidiaries of foreign companies now employ 6.4 million Americans, and these jobs pay, on average, 19.1 percent more than jobs at U.S. companies.

AgustaWestland established its presence here 20 years ago, with just a couple of people working in a single office. Since then, we have been building on that investment every year. It’s part of our corporate strategy to be closer to our customers and to tap into the highly skilled American workforce. We understand that you can’t go wrong by investing in America.

AgustaWestland and its two parent companies currently employ 15,000 people in the United States. We recently broke ground on an expansion of our Philadelphia manufacturing plant, where we build the single-turbine A119 helicopter used across the country by state police agencies, Emergency Medical Services and offshore exploration companies. When that expansion is complete later this year, all production of the A119 will be moved to Philadelphia from its current location in Italy. The 40,000-square-foot plant will then be the hub of all manufacturing and sales of that helicopter worldwide.

In fact, this is the answer to those who think companies only insource to have access to the U.S. market: Insourcing companies actually account for 22.4 percent of all U.S. exports.

While others wax nostalgic for the way things used to be, foreign companies are investing all over America. Everyone knows about Honda’s plant in Marysville, Ohio, where they have been building cars for 20 years, but few know that Nissan is adding 1,500 more jobs to its plant in Smyrna, Tenn. Samsung is investing half a billion dollars to expand its semiconductor plant in Austin, Texas, and add another 300 jobs. Nestle is building a $120 million facility in Florida that will bring 300 new jobs.

Like AgustaWestland, these companies are among the leaders in their industries. Their new facilities bring in new investment and ensure we continue to be at the forefront of technology. Insourcing, which goes hand-in-hand with outsourcing, is an engine of growth for the U.S. economy. It would be a bad idea to apply the brakes.

Stephen C. Moss is president of AgustaWestland Inc.

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