Thursday, December 14, 2006

Change Sometimes Comes Painfully

I was born in an agricultural and manufacturing region of the US, better known as "The Rust Belt." Over the years, I've watched as the vast majority of young people (especially those with talent and sought-after skills) have left. And that includes me. I remember the shock after the year 2000 census, when the extent of this exodus of talent finally had solid numbers associated with it.

My region was forced to watch from a distance during the economic boom of the '90s, and they are in the process of repeating that, as tech has been taking off yet again. My home has the potential to be much more successful than it is: there are a number of very fine colleges/universities in the area. But the powers that be held on to the dream of a return of manufacturing for far too long, and have missed a great many opportunities over the past two decades.

The region has most definitely suffered disproportionately during economic downturns. Things aren't exactly improving, as the American auto industry suffers (it was one of the last local manufacturing bastions).

My uncle's auto parts plant closed last year. After 40 years of employment, he, and hundreds of other workers, were out of work and forced to re-train for an entirely new economic environment, or make due with an early retirement.

[I'd love to link to an article on this from the local newspaper, but their articles don't have unique URLs. Too bad...]


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