Recently at a conference on higher education around entrepreneurship, one of the professors in the room explained his “$500 Challenge” he gives every year to his students. He lays out 5 crisp, fresh $100 bills on the instructor’s table at the head of the room, then challenges the students to show him a tag on their clothing that says “Made in the USA” in order to win one of the $100 bills.
He stated he has been providing this challenge to his students for ten years now, and he has yet to give away any of the crisp $100 bills.
As a consumer, I would honestly prefer to buy products made in the state of Indiana. But, whenever I head to the grocery, or the retail outlet, it is difficult, if not impossible to find products not made in China, let alone right here in Indiana. Sometimes there are no “Made in XXX” labels on the goods at all.
Of course, there is nothing against China. They have manufactured products that are affordable. In fact, their “Made in China” label has been a phenomenal branding campaign. The brand in fact is so pervasive and entrenched, that the book, A Year Without “Made in China”: One Family’s True Life Adventure in the Global Economy by Sara Bongiorni challenged a family to live without products made in China for one year. The book is an enlightening tale about the challenges of being cognizant of where our goods come from and what we purchase for our households.
However, Indiana has been and continues to be a manufacturing powerhouse, and other than hearing stories on the news about a new manufacturer coming to Indiana, it isn’t always top of mind as to what products are actually made here in Indiana.
In this challenge lies opportunity. Governor Daniels should consider having a “Brand Indiana” logo and/or jingle contest, where Hoosier graphic artists submit their best ideas on a logo or musicians/advertising pitch their best jingles for Indiana manufactured products. Then, a panel of CEOs at the manufacturing companies can judge and find a winner. Next, the manufacturers could label all the wonderful products made in Indiana prior to retail sale, or use the jingle at the end of their television commercials (of course, giving proper credit to the winning designer(s)). Finally, people could see (inside Indiana and outside the state) that a lot of fantastic goods are made right here, in the Midwest, in our Hoosier state.
As a consumer, entrepreneur and young professional with a vested interest in ensuring Indiana succeed in the new economy, I think Hoosiers would welcome the opportunity to purchase products made in our state. I know I would! Our manufacturing is a backbone of economic development in Indiana. If China can do it, and Pentium can do it, why can’t we? Why not strengthen that backbone and take the state’s brand to the next level by making it easier for us all to identify and support Indiana made products?
Dr. Erin Albert currently is an assistant professor of pharmacy practice and the Director of The Ribordy Center for Community Practice at Butler University. A native of South Bend, she is a pharmacist and obtained a BS in pharmacy from Butler University, MBA in Marketing from Concordia University Wisconsin, Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) from Shenandoah University, and is currently pursuing her law degree at Indiana University School of Law Indianapolis in the fall of 2008. Dr. Albert also founded two companies (Pharm, LLC (a life science consulting firm) and Yuspie, LLC (a social networking firm)) and has written/edited several books.
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