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Economy

What Should Cities Make?

President Trump is gung-ho about the U.S. producing more goods. But what, exactly, should cities be making in the 21st century?
Make beer, not widgets: Sabrina Calhoun loads a pallet with cases of beer at Rhinegeist Brewery in Cincinnati's Brewery District in 2015.
Make beer, not widgets: Sabrina Calhoun loads a pallet with cases of beer at Rhinegeist Brewery in Cincinnati's Brewery District in 2015.John Minchillo/AP

When President Donald Trump announced his Manufacturing Jobs Initiative last month, he was moving forward on a promise he made over and over during his campaign: to make America great at making stuff again.

“America became the world’s dominant economy by becoming the world’s dominant producer,” the then-candidate said during a campaign stop in Monessen, Pennsylvania, in June 2016. Lambasting globalization and trade pacts as “economic surrender,” he pledged to restore the country to the glory days of thrumming assembly lines: “We will make America the best place in the world to start a business, hire workers, and open a factory.”