Bringing business back home – Supply Chain Dive

by admin on May 22, 2022

As inflation soared and the latest surge of the COVID-19 pandemic began to subside in early 2022, the practice of reshoring — businesses bringing operations back to the United States from overseas — continued to gain momentum.

The movement has been growing for years.

The pandemic has spurred a national push to strengthen the domestic supply chain, especially of essential products, driving reshoring numbers higher,” reported the Reshoring Initiative in its September 2021 data report.

And in his State of the Union address on March 1, U.S. President Joe Biden kept the spotlight on reshoring, declaring, “Instead of relying on foreign supply chains, let’s make it in America.”

U.S. businesses seeking ways to do just that — “make it in America” — have an option in UNICOR, an often-overlooked federal program supporting reshoring efforts.

Established in 1934, UNICOR prepares individuals in prison to earn a productive living through job training. Overseen by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, UNICOR manufactures products for government, commercial and nonprofit customers. The program operates out of modern factories and offers a diverse range of production capabilities and expertise.

UNICOR is entirely self-sufficient, receiving no appropriated funds from Congress and operating at no cost to taxpayers.

In 2012, Congress included in the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act a provision that encouraged private sector collaboration with UNICOR. Section 221 gave UNICOR repatriation authority, allowing it to engage in approved projects to manufacture or assemble items that are currently or would otherwise be produced outside the United States.

The First Step Act — formally known as the Formerly Incarcerated Reenter Society Transformed Safely Transitioning Every Person Act — makes it even easier for businesses to work with UNICOR. Passed by Congress in 2018, the act allows state and local governments, nonprofit organizations and commercial companies to buy products from UNICOR.

By partnering with UNICOR, businesses are taking advantage of this legislation and positioning themselves to increase operations in the United States.

“UNICOR is a proven, cost-effective way to keep jobs in the United States — and bring them back from overseas,” says Patrick O’Connor, CEO of UNICOR.

UNICOR’s manufacturing and services capabilities include metals, wire and plastics, up-fit vise repair, electronics, wood, textiles and energy conservation. And UNICOR’s infrastructure offers you the cost savings of an offshore operation, with the benefits of a domestic operation. Businesses have found that the benefits include:

  • The “Made in the USA” marketing advantage.
  • Compliance with U.S. best practices, environmental mandates, industrial performance standards (ISO), OSHA requirements and the most stringent military specifications.
  • The ability to mobilize, collaborate and convene without worrying about transoceanic flights, significant time zone differences and related communications challenges.
  • Manufacturing and surge capacity to meet the most challenging demands and cyclical markets.
  • The highest standards of business practices to promote a culture of trust and collaboration.
  • An available labor force.
  • Capability in establishing manufacturing facilities to meet your specific product needs.

Customers confirm the high quality of the working relationship and end product. As one puts it: “UNICOR has been nothing but exceptional — from the guys on the back end answering emails and providing certificates to the excellent drivers that are friendly, prompt and not afraid to get their hands dirty.”

Partnering with UNICOR has also made a difference for thousands of individuals in prison across the country, helping them develop practical work skills for successful reentry into society. Research has shown that those who participate in the UNICOR program are 24% less likely to return to criminal activity and 14% more likely than nonparticipants to obtain employment after prison.

Now UNICOR is contributing to a growing business trend as well. As the Reshoring Institute put it in March, “We are seeing a major uptick in companies interested in bringing manufacturing back … and reevaluating their global manufacturing strategies. These trends are happening across many industrial and consumer products sectors.”

These companies would do well to consider a federal effort like UNICOR, which not only helps the U.S. economy by bringing business back to U.S. shores but is helping Americans rebuild their lives. Businesses large and small that have partnered with UNICOR have found they can contribute to society as a whole, add to their bottom lines and serve customers better by relying on UNICOR’s high-quality products and services.

To learn more about how UNICOR can support your reshoring initiatives, contact UNICOR Business Development at [email protected] or 202-305-3490.

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