Right after I saw the post about Rowe's personal responses to his participation in this commercial I got confused. There were mentions about Walmart's $50 Billion commitment and then about the company's $10 Million effort for something. And along the way I wondered just what all this would mean to our suppliers - and if there would be any reason to think there would be changes to the company's EDI implementation or their rules. Lots of questions... so I got in touch with Walmart directly. Katie Cody, Senior Manager for National Media Relations clarified things quite a bit - though she really didn't have any comments on Mike Rowe's involvement.
First things first - there will be no changes to Walmart's EDI involvement (other than the normal data changes you deal with all the time). Suppliers both new and old are required to participate in EDI transactions if they want to do business with the retailer.
What about the $250 Billion, $50 Billion, and $10 Million?
The $10 Million number is part of what Walmart has earmarked as their "Innovation Fund," a 5 year long program that provides grants to innovators in the manufacturing sector. It appears to be part of a serious effort to increase manufacturing in America. It's a good thing as far as I can tell, but it pales when compared to the other effort.
The $50 Billion number is what Walmart will spend in year 10 of its $250 Billion 10 year plan... not in addition to. I can't speak to the altruistic motives of Walmart. I don't know their true intentions, but in a way I really don't care as long as what they are doing delivers what they say the effort is about - a revitalized U.S. manufacturing economy.
And the money is not designated for investments in manufacturers or funding their growth. It is strictly the amount of money that Walmart has earmarked to be spent buying products made in the U.S. That's an additional $250 Billion on top of what the company now purchases from on-shore manufacturers.
Here's a link to the company's clarification of its plan. It contains a list of companies Walmart is already working with. Some of the companies like GE are huge, so an additional 150 jobs is a drop in the bucket. But many of the other companies are pretty small, like Redman & Associates that is adding 74 jobs.
It seems the effort is a real one, and regardless of one's overall opinion of Walmart, the company does do some things right (like EDI) - and now this. When I asked Cody why this might work now after all the manufacturing jobs had been lured away from America, she told me that things have changed. "The costs of shipping, raw materials, and labor have all increased to the point that manufacturing many products in the U.S. is very competitive." And of course... we need the jobs.