Fireworks industry gets coverage once a year
A handful of newspapers used the July 4th holiday to take a look at their local fireworks industry — or what it means to international trade.
Alia Malik of The Baltimore Sun wrote, “About a dozen decaying buildings are all that remains of the Patriotic Fireworks factory, once ranked among the nation’s top 10 fireworks plants. Now it is one of two distribution centers left here, remnants of the local fireworks industry, which started during the Great Depression, grew to include munitions during World War II and scaled back to fireworks after the war. Elkton’s location about midway between Baltimore and Philadelphia, and the availability of black powder, produced in Delaware, made it an ideal location for fireworks plants.
“During the industry’s heyday, several area plants produced fireworks. Only Patriotic and another firm, Elkton Sparkler, remain today. Patriotic gets all of its fireworks from China, and Elkton Sparkler imports the bulk of its fireworks from there, producing a minuscule fraction of its sparklers here.”
Jonnie Tate Finn of the Sioux Falls Argus Leader in South Dakota wrote, “The 12 Rich Bros. locations in South Dakota are among more than 300 retail licenses issued this year.
“Mike Rich, son of one of the founding brothers, now runs Rich Bros. Co. Though he wouldn’t say what his fireworks stores make annually, a representative with the South Dakota Department of Revenue said the industry reported $7.7 million in gross sales in 2006 from vendors across the state. The Rich Bros. operation is among the largest in the state.”
And Xiyun Yang of The Washington Post took a look at what fireworks means to trade with China, writing, “Nearly 99 percent of all fireworks sold legally in the United States are imported from China, according to the American Pyrotechnics Association, a trade group. Since they began to flood the U.S. market more than 20 years ago, these inherently hazardous imports have been aggressively regulated in a way that other Chinese-made goods often are not.
“Soon after U.S.-China trade ties were reestablished in the late-1970s, the American fireworks industry turned back to the country where they were invented. Because fireworks need to be made by hand, the newly opened Chinese market presented low labor costs as well as a centuries-old reputation.”