Chinese PC manufacturer Lenovo announced Tuesday that it will be bringing PC manufacturing jobs to the U.S. At a time when most PC manufacturers are retrenching, it remains to be seen whether Lenovo's U.S. investment will remain token, or be able to scale.
The addition of 115 jobs alongside a $2 million investment to ready the facility will land near Greensboro, in Whitsett, North Carolina. Lenovo already operates an order fulfillment and distribution center in the area that yields 160 full-time positions. The new manufacturing line will occupy unused space in that facility, explaining the low initial investment cost to Lenovo. The line will cater to Lenovo's corporate customers, focusing on the company's line of popular and venerable ThinkPad computers.
While it's clear that more jobs, especially manufacturing jobs, are welcome in the U.S., is Lenovo's move a token gesture? In quotes to The Wall Street Journal, Lenovo's supply chain chief Gerry Smith characterizes the Whitsett expansion as a first step: "I believe this is the first of many steps to increase our production capability."
On the other hand, David Schmoock, head of Lenovo North America, equivocated, comparing an American manufacturing presence to going green, "Us having a [production] facility here in a home country is a differentiator that people will value Being green is not necessarily the lowest-cost option for a lot of companies, but you do it because your customers and partners value you being green." PR handshaking aside, this is welcome news. It points to a future where products are manufactured with more care closer to home, or, at least, that's the initial promise here. Whether or not in makes sense to a big company like Lenovo — and all of our wallets — remains to be seen.