More early trade
I'm like 40 hours into the game (first playthrough) and haven't signed a single contract yet. I get that it's meant for late game factories but it doesn't keep me very engaged.
Sometimes you get in a bad situation and is like "wow i really need fuel right NOW" because you forgot to setup alerts or XYZ, and need to buy diesel for some coal or something, it would be cool if some of the discovered settlement could have these issues aswell.
Like: "Our concrete factory had a major breakdown we need 1400 concrete slabs as soon as possible, we will pay with 800 cement, its what we have in storage. We need it within a year."
Some lucurative amount so it's profitable even early-mid game. Then a timer for a year start and you could maybe halt some production and tweak here and there. Then you would need to setup a second temporary input for cement for the incoming reward.
This could ofcourse be fed into the rep system aswell, and i think the rep grind could be a little more engaging aswell.