ORLANDO — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. spearheaded an effort Thursday to bring together retailers, suppliers and government officials to figure out how to bring more manufacturing jobs to the United States.
The world's largest retailer hosted its first two-day U.S. Manufacturing Summit in Orlando, hoping to capitalize on the company's recent commitment to drive more manufacturing in the United States. The "made in the USA" campaign could boost Wal-Mart's image, which is constantly under attack by labor-backed groups who have criticized the retail behemoth as a destroyer of U.S. jobs rather than a creator.
The summit comes seven months after the discounter pledged that it planned to buy $50 billion more U.S.-made goods over the next decade.
At the summit, Jeff Immelt, chairman and CEO of General Electric, announced GE would be bringing 150 manufacturing jobs to plants in Illinois and Ohio where high-efficient lighting will be built. The $30 million investment will be at plants in Circleville, Ohio; Bucyrus, Ohio; and Mattoon, Ill.
"We wanted to be a part of this," Immelt said.
"It's a very positive PR move for the company," said Burt Flickinger III, president of retail consultancy Strategic Resource Group. "But it took two decades to unwind the American manufacturing base and it will take two decades to bring it back."