We've heard all too often, from the biggest companies on down to the smallest enterprises, that it can be extremely challenging to keep their products made in the USA.  The reason most often given sounds like, “the manufacturing in the United States has been neglected and now reliable manufacturers are too hard to find, or even nonexistent”.  For more complicated, multi-part products, often the components are made only overseas, so it becomes sensible to manufacture the final product in the same region, in other words, not in the USA.  It is disheartening, frustrating, but entirely logical.  That's why we were so intrigued when we heard about a project in Nevada dedicated to creating a regional manufacturing hub, specifically serving active lifestyle and recreation-oriented companies.  USA Love List invited them to tell us more about it in this guest post by Lisa Granahan:

Ascent Douglas may seem like a unique name for an economic development program, however it describes exactly what’s happening. We're working to tell the story of Douglas County, Nevada through an outreach program using social marketing to communicate and engage with the companies and customers we are positioned to serve.

The Ascent Douglas County, Nevada marketing initiative was developed to enhance Douglas County’s economic vitality goals by targeting outdoor recreation and lifestyle manufacturers to expand or relocate their operations to Douglas County. With Nevada’s favorable business tax structure combined with the attributes of Douglas County, including Carson Valley and South Lake Tahoe, it’s a win-win. The lifestyle and geographic attributes of the region provide an environment perfect for business growth and real world product trials.

To support the program, the Ascent Douglas team, comprised of Douglas County, the Northern Nevada Economic Development Authority (NNDA) and local champions, carried the message locally, statewide and to the outdoor industry. For the past two years, an Ascent Douglas team has sponsored the Outdoor Retailer (OR) Summer Market, the country’s largest expo for outdoor retailers and manufacturers with more than 25,000 attendees. The team's goal was to have direct contact with the leaders in outdoor and lifestyle manufacturing and we accomplished this though sponsorship of Project OR, social marketing and on-the-ground cold calls. Following the 2010 OR Summer Market, Douglas County came back with a mission to take a leading role in manufacturing’s return to America (re-shoring) and we aggressively began pursuing the establishment of a cut-and-sew facility for the county.

In just two short years, that vision will become a reality as the Ascent Douglas Team rapidly moves forward with plans to bring a contract cut-and-sew manufacturing facility to the Carson Valley this year. Its potential customers are the large numbers of companies that produce technical soft goods, such as backpacks, bags, tents, and the like for outdoor enthusiasts.

The Ascent Douglas Team believes the cut-and-sew facility is a huge step toward the recruitment of  companies on the verge of relocating to the county. Recognizing that a majority of economic expansion occurs from existing companies rather than relocations, Ascent Douglas is also increasing its outreach to local, existing outdoor equipment companies such as North Sails, Aviso, and Sierra 4×4 Trailers to learn about their successes, discover any obstacles, and connect them with resources that can help them grow.

For more information about the Ascent Douglas County, Nevada program, contact Lisa Granahan. As Economic Vitality Manager of Douglas County, she is responsible for coordinating plan implementation and for working with new and existing businesses, connecting them to needed services and resources. The County teams together with the Northern Nevada Development Authority (NNDA), the Nevada Small Business Development Center (NSBDC) and the local Chambers of Commerce to promote business retention and expansion for existing County businesses, and relocation of new businesses to Douglas County.