“THE remarkable juxtaposition of American heartland, Midwest values and a whole lot of foreign accents” is what makes Midland, Michigan, a beacon of hope for the country’s manufacturing sector, reckons Andrew Liveris. His is one of those accents, though he no longer sounds crocodile-wrestlingly Australian. The boss of Dow Chemical has lived on and off for years in the company town that grew up around the brine wells that Herbert Dow first tapped in 1897 for his pioneering electrolysis process. The chemical firm still employs 5,500 of the town’s 42,000 inhabitants. (The second-biggest employer is Dow Corning, a silicone-making joint venture.) Dow’s success has delivered the nice homes, good schools and ball parks that make up the American Dream.
Like many immigrants, Mr Liveris shares that dream. But he now fears it is under threat. He has become one of the leading voices calling on the American government to embrace industrial policy. Last July Dow launched a plan to revive American manufacturing, which Mr Liveris then expanded into a book, “Make It In America”. On June 24th President Barack Obama appointed him co-chair of a new “Advanced Manufacturing Partnership” that brings together government, academia and business to “build a roadmap” for a more competitive manufacturing sector.