South Africa needs to redress premature deindustrialization that has seen the manufacturing sector’s contribution to economic growth and development thinning out. In order to chart a path towards reviving the manufacturing sector, understanding the factors that drive the performance and the competitiveness of the manufacturing industry is vital. This paper analyses responses from the City of Johannesburg survey on economic performance, competitiveness and the challenges faced, from over 300 firms. The study suggests that that a significant proportion of firms exhibited growth between 2013 and 2015, depending on sectoral grouping, access to the export market and investment in machinery and equipment, among other factors. The paper offers recommendations to stimulate economic performance and competitiveness in Johannesburg.