Can innovation save American jobs?

By Robert Arnold - Investigative Reporter

HOUSTON - As congressional leaders and the president continue discussing ways to stop the number of American jobs leaving the U.S., some believe innovation is the key to slowing this economic trend.

In Chihuahua City, Mexico, there is a huge manufacturing base filled with American companies. What's there is a mix of big manufacturers such as Ford and Honeywell and the companies supplying those operations.

“So that's not going away,” said Nikhil Celly, PhD, an economist at the University of Houston.

Celly said when a product becomes commonplace, companies are forced to find cheaper ways to make that product to remain competitive, which is a main reason American companies start looking outside the U.S.

“That really brings down the operational costs, administrative costs,” said Celly.

Celly believes our government should focus more on innovation and less on trying to stem the number of jobs already leaving the country. Celly said innovating new products naturally creates manufacturing. After all, factories and workers would be needed to make the new product.

“That's where I see the US really being competitive, is going back to innovating new products,” said Celly.

Innovation is a sentiment KPRC even heard while talking with business organizations in Chihuahua City.

“We wish we had those jobs here in Mexico. We're taking the manufacturing jobs that we have here because that's the best we can do so far,” said Sergio Ochoa, president of Desarollo Economico del Estado de Chihuahua.

Still, Celly said simply standing by as more and more manufacturing jobs leave the country is not an option. He said the U.S. has to be more shrewd in negotiating trade deals.

“The path forward may be some sort of renegotiation, particularly with NAFTA,” said Celly.

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