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Certified Made in America

If you think there’s money to be made in protectionist sentiments stirred to a boil by hard times, then an Arizon start-up thinks there’s money to be made off you. My American Jobs, for a pretty hefty yearly fee of somewhere between $2,200 and $5,000 will certify your product as American-made. Recognizing the realities of our global economy, they award three levels of certification: the lowest (3 stars) to products in which 50% of the materials are American-sourced (even if the product is assembled overseas); four stars to products in which 75% of the materials are American-sourced and the final product is assembled in America; five stars to products in which 95% of the materials are American-sourced and the final product is assembled in America.

Before you start forking over your precious operating capital, remember that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has a “Made In America” label that you can get for free. In addition, “Made In America” does not have the market influence that, say, “kosher” food or “ASTM” certified crayons have. Since there is no standard certification yet, there’s nothing stopping you from making up a Made In America certification and spending a twenty bucks putting up a fake certification Web site.

But we have, after all, irrevocably placed all our bets on a global economy, so it’s a value proposition rapidly fading from the consumer radars.

That being said, there are products that have target markets where “Made In America” is or may be a strong market influencer. Like, say, guns. Or duck decoys. George W. Bush bobble-head dolls. American flags. (My flag has a tag on it that says, “Made In China.” Go figure.) While you may not want to go through the expense and hassle of getting the My American Jobs folks to certify your product, they do provide a model: the percentage scale.

But remember: price always remains the biggest influencer in economic downturns. Witness the recent explosive success of Wal*Mart, a company whose real name should be, “The PRC Outlet Store.”

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