A Manufacturing Renaissance in the Hudson Valley

The movement to localize our food sources is already underway, but many don’t think we’ll realistically be able to bring back much in the way of local manufacturing. The buttons above are from a collection of 82 being auctioned this month at the Copake Bicycle Auction. Most feature various bicycle manufacturers, many from New York State, all of them long gone. The majority of bicycles sold in the U.S. are now made in Taiwan and China.

There are still bicycles being made in the United States, but with one or two exceptions, it is mostly a boutique industry, the bike frames  made by hand one at a time by an individual craftsperson, then completed with parts from overseas. Portland, Oregon has already established itself as the unofficial handmade bicycle capital.

What if the Hudson Valley set out to be the new capital of Factory-Made in the USA bicycles? No one knows how fancy motorcycles or expensive modern art will fare in our increasingly unsustainable economy, but what if Orange County Chopper or Pollich Tallix, both located in Orange County, started a pilot program to create something like the highly useful machines demonstrated in the video below?  It features Saul Griffith, an inventor, entrepreneur, and environmental activist. His latest venture, Onya Cycles, based in California, makes an electric assist cargo bike useful for short-range commuting, shopping, and running about town.

But how will we compete with the tooled up factories and cheap labor overseas? The coming oil shortages may do more than anything yet to level the playing field. Even before the tsunami and earthquake, bicycle parts from Japan had been climbing rapidly. The sooner we realize the endless supply chain of cheap goods is going to snap, the better off we’ll be as a region.


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