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  Message 1420
From:  "docdtv_wgta"
Date:  Sun Sep 12, 2004  6:04 pm
Subject:  Important new report on rural economic growth and development

cf. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/WGTA-Discussion/message/739
"20th c US workforce history; dawn of the 'YUCkie'?"
and http://groups.yahoo.com/group/WGTA-Discussion/message/831
"Real estate et alia in the Digital Telecom Era"
and http://groups.yahoo.com/group/WGTA-Discussion/message/938
"Does the Internet promote 'The Death of Cities'?"
and http://groups.yahoo.com/group/WGTA-Discussion/message/1239
"*Business* implications of *residential* broadband rollout"
and http://groups.yahoo.com/group/WGTA-Discussion/message/1311
"A short education on Internet broadband access and its puzzles"

Warning: long post

The Economic Development Administration ( http://www.eda.gov/ )
an agency of the US Department of Commerce, has this mission:

"The... (EDA) was established to work with states and localities to
generate new jobs, retain existing jobs, and stimulate industrial
and commercial growth in economically distressed areas and regions
of the United States."

The EDA sponsors research. This summer, Professor Michael Porter, a
guru at the Harvard Business School, delivered a final new report
for the EDA titled: "Competitiveness in Rural Regions..."

Find a portal of related materials here:

http://www.isc.hbs.edu/econ-rural.htm

which include video-on-demand Webcasts,
and literary materials with charts and graphs.

I think it is very worthwhile for economic development professionals
concerned with rural areas to review these materials. I have
partially reviewed them, and will offer some remarks in a while.

But first, if you've read this far, I'd like to encourage you to
bookmark some useful information of lasting value. Data of this sort
provides the raw material which drives studies like that upon which
we will shortly comment.

Start with this Web site, EDA's portal to online socioeconomic
data sources:

http://www.econdata.net/

Your first stop should be this page:

http://www.econdata.net/content_usersguide.html

which introduces a 100-page online guide, titled "Socioeconomic Data
for Understanding Your Regional Economy: A User's Guide", filling a
vital need for metacommentary. This 1998 work is a great introduction
to the subject. I regret I had not enjoyed reading a copy before I
drafted my "Haralson County, Georgia data sources portal" page in the
late 90's, presently hosted at:

http://bellsouthpwp.net/d/o/docdtv/Haralson/

As of September 2006, find this same material now at: http://bellsouthpwp.net/d/o/docdtv/Haralson/  ]

Finally, I'd like to recommend a book you cannot read online:

"How the Economy Works..." (2nd edition)
Mennis, Edmund A.
(Prentice-Hall, 1999)

Buy a copy of the 268-page paperback for $14 via "Amazon Books"
at this Web page:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0735200769/

It's well worth the money for what you get. It's not so much that the
data is very current (you can find free current data online) as that
subtle points of difference between terms that seem to be synonymous
are clarified. The utility of the book extends far beyond the
narrower goal of investment education described in the full title.
Author Dr. Mennis was editor of "Business Economics", the journal of
the National Association of Business Economists when the book was
written. If you have an account with Amazon, you can even browse a
limited number of pages from the book online for free.

Well, having furthered your general economics education, let's get
back to Professor Porter's report on rural economies in the US.

The aformentioned Web page offers this one-paragraph synopsis:

"The economic performance of rural regions is lagging that of urban
areas in the United States and also in many other parts of the world.
While there have been many efforts to foster economic development in
rural areas involving substantial public and private investments,
most have failed. There is a pressing and widely recognized need for
new approaches to rural economic development, drawing on broader
learning about the sources of competitiveness in the global economy.
Attempting to mitigate the generic deficiencies of regions will not
be sufficient. Instead, each rural region needs a distinctive
strategy that reflects its unique strengths, its particular mix of
clusters, and which integrates its economy with the closest urban
centers."

I will now excerpt and comment on:
http://www.eda.gov/ImageCache/EDAPublic/documents/pdfdocs/
eda_5frural_5fregions_2epdf/v1/eda_5frural_5fregions.pdf
"Competitiveness in U.S. Rural Regions: Learning and Research Agenda"
( February 25, 2004)

I will also cite material from:
http://www.isc.hbs.edu/pdf/EDA_Rural_Regions_2004.06.29.pdf
"Presentation slides" - presnted June 29, 2004 which I will term
"the slides"

GENERAL ECONOMIC PRINCIPLES ESP. CLUSTERING

"Local industries account for the majority (about two thirds) of the
employment in regional economies in the U.S. Because local industries
serve only the local market and most are services, they have more
limited opportunities for productivity growth. [In contrast, traded
industries] ...compete to sell products and services across regions
and often to other countries. Traded industries can, in principle, be
located anywhere. They locate in a particular region based not on
resource availability but on broader competitive considerations...
Traded industries have a disproportionate influence on regional
prosperity and economic growth. Traded industries have higher levels
of productivity, higher productivity growth, and higher average wages
than local industries. Because they can grow beyond the size and the
needs of the local market, traded industries in which a region is
competitive are major drivers of productivity and employment growth...

"One of the most striking features of regional economies, especially
in advanced economies, is the presence of clusters. Clusters are
geographically concentrated groups of interconnected companies and
associated institutions in a particular field... Clusters are often
contained within a geographic area where ease of communication,
logistics, and personal interaction is possible, sometimes in a
single town... [How long will it take for the Internet et alia to
compromise this co-location synergy advantage significantly? - RF]
The notion of clusters has a long history, but clusters have become a
prominent concept in economic development since 1990...

[I'll note that in the 1980's, when I was active in electronic
display research, middle management at my multinational giant
attributed the significant leadership of Japan over the United
States in this field to the synergies of clustering. It sure was
a nice excuse for these American nationals - whether true or not.]

"Clusters enhance competitiveness in three ways... First, they
improve productivity because firms have ready, efficient access to
specialized suppliers, skills, information, training and technical
in a demanding competitive environment... Second, clusters foster
innovation by increasing the ability of companies to perceive
opportunities for new products, new processes, and meeting new needs
due to the sheer concentration of entities in the field... Third,
clusters facilitate the commercialization of innovation by lowering
the barriers to entry of new firms via startups, spin-offs and new
business lines of established firms... a worker in a rural cluster
firm tends to earn 13% more on average than a worker in a non-
cluster."

[Slide 23 offers a contrast between the statistics of traded and
local clusters within either rural or metropolitan regions. A very
striking thing I note is that traded clusters have FAR LESS impact
on wages in rural than metro areas. Mean wages in metro traded
clusters are $50746pa, 74% above the $29126pa seen in metro local
clusters. But in rural regions, mean wages in traded clusters is
$26481pa, only 36% above the $19401pa seen in local clusters! Is this
difference due to the intensity of clustering effects within rural
clusters? I'd like to go back to the webcast and see if Porter has
anything to say! I would also ask him if he uses the term cluster to
embrace firms in which clustering does not exist; i.e. does he use it
as a synonym for industry?]

"Productivity tends to depend less on what traded industries a region
competes in than how it competes. We find that the mix of clusters in
a region accounts for only about 20% of the variation of average
wages across regions, while differences in wages in given clusters
explain 80% of the variation. This finding contrasts with the widely
held believe that poorer regions tend to suffer primarily because of
an unfavorable composition of industries...

"The development of a cluster is a long process stretching over a
decade or more... Chance events are often important to the birth of a
cluster... Cluster development is partly a natural, evolutionary
process driven by market forces. However, there is growing evidence
that public and private awareness, policy choices, and conscious
investments can play a major role in the process...

WE NEED TO KNOW MUCH MORE

"Overall, there has been relatively little literature documenting
the evolution of rural economies in the United States... During the
industrial revolution of the 1890s, rural regions evolved towards
manufacturing, producing industrial commodities such as bulk
chemicals, specialty chemicals, medicines, dyes, iron, steel, and
others, in addition to food. By the 1980s, rural regions were
struggling to compete as deregulation meant that subsidies for
services to rural areas were disappearing (e.g., telecoms, airlines),
and liberalized international trade opened manufacturing to new
competitors...

"The economic profile of rural regions in the U.S. is changing, but
we know remarkably little about the dynamics of this shift. There is
a pressing need to move beyond broad aggregates such as
manufacturing, services, and agriculture...

GENERAL RURAL TRENDS

"Quigley... finds long-term trends of declining rural population, a
steep decline in total rural personal income, rural per capita
incomes at about 70% of urban incomes, and a rising income gap
between rural and metropolitan regions... By the 1990 census, most
Americans lived not only in urban areas but in metropolitan areas of
more than one million people... The only period in recent history
where rural regions did not lose population were the 1970s, when
rural regions actually increased their share of national population.
It appears that this was due to the shift of manufacturing out of
urban areas to lower cost rural locations during that period which
opened up new job opportunities." [Things like build-out of the
Interstate highway system made this possible.-RF]

"In the United States, the share of manufacturing in total employment
dropped from 29% in the late 1960s to 16% in 1995... A USDA study
suggests that differentiated, noncommodity manufactured products with
a low share of labor in total costs will offer the most potential for
U.S. rural regions. Rural U.S. locations can offer rapid or 'just-in-
time' deliveries and shorter production cycles that competing regions
abroad. The USDA study also notes that those rural regions that are
already competing successfully in manufacturing tend to be adjacent
to urban centers, have higher than average population densities, and
greater access to services."

[Slide 16 illustrates how the most recent shift away from
manufacturing to service employment is only a tad greater in rural
than metro areas, despite their greater concentration in the former.
Omitting jobs which are neither, it shows the share of jobs in
manufacturing falling from 31% in 1990 to 24% in 2001 within rural
regions and from 20% in 1990 to 14% in 2001 within metro regions.]

"A number of studies have explored the impact of proximity to an
urban region... Mills... finds there is a significant incentive for
young workers to migrate to metropolitan areas based on higher
initial earnings. Adjacency to a metropolitan area speeds both the
migration to the metropolitan area, and also the transition from
unemployment to employment for rural workers...

[Slide 20 plots rural wages versus adjacent metro wages for the
various economic areas of the United States. Rural area wages are
positively correlated with adjacent metro area wages, but this
accounts for only 16% (RxR=0.161) of the variation between rural
communities. This adds evidence for the idiosyncratic nature of rural
economies. And slide 22 illustrates that despite the wide difference
in mean wages between metro and rural areas, the two respective types
of locality distributions manifest non-trivial overlap.]

"Rural regions, just as metropolitan regions, are a heterogeneous
group; focusing on the characteristics they share ignores many of
the most important factors driving an individual regions'
performance... [But] over time... there has been a tendency for
weaker rural regions to catch up [economically with stronger rural
regions.] The relationship is the opposite in metropolitan counties,
where leading counties tend to grow wages the fastest...

"Quigley finds that transfer payments to rural areas have been on the
rise for at least the last 15 years, and are at a level of 19% of
total income in rural areas vs. 12% in urban areas. He argues that
this level of transfers is driven by a combination of weak economic
performance and an aging population."

[Another perspective is this: If you are aged or disabled and won't
hold a job, it makes sense for you to live in a rural area where your
costs will be minimized. This makes rural areas more residential and
metro areas more occupational: it is not really a source of
"productivity" contrast in the narrowest sense.]

"Rural counties account for 80% of land area, and 20% of U.S.
population... In 1990, rural regions accounted for 14.3% of U.S.
employment... In 2001, rural regions registered 14.2% of total U.S.
employment...

"There are indications that rural prosperity is actually higher than
measured because of lower cost of living levels. For example, Quigley
reports an increasing level of home ownership and improving housing
quality in rural regions relative to metropolitan regions... The
share of residents defined as poor is higher in rural versus
metropolitan regions... however... the severity of poverty in rural
regions, measured by income level relative to the region's average,
is less than in metropolitan regions. Compared to the urban poor,
then, the rural poor are relatively better off...

"Government farm payments are only a small percentage of overall
rural income... [However,] he, as do many others in the field, argues
that farm subsidies have a negative impact on rural areas by
'absorbing resources, propagating the myth that rural and agriculture
are the same, and making it difficult for rural areas to develop new
areas of competitive advantage.' ...Quigley finds that less than 10%
of the rural population lives on farms. Less than 7% of employment in
rural areas is in farming, and farm income represents only about 2%
of total rural income...

RURAL ECONOMIC DISASTER HIGHLY CONCENTRATED
BY GEOGRAPHY & INDUSTRY - BIG PICTURE FAR MORE POSITIVE

"Overall, rural regions lost national position in the traded economy
between 1990 and 2001. However, rural regions improved their share of
national employment in 31 out of 41 traded clusters... While there
has been a lot of public attention on job losses in rural regions, it
is important to note that these job losses have been concentrated in
a small number of traditional clusters... And they are regionally
concentrated in the South and Southwest of the U.S.; rural areas in
other parts of the country register better results...

"Rural regions in the United States added about 767,000 traded
cluster jobs between 1990 and 2001, or 12.6 percent. Roughly 1.3
[million] new jobs were created while 532,000 were lost. Employment
growth came from a relatively broad array of clusters... The six
clusters that added 70,000 or more rural jobs were Business Services,
Hospitality and Tourism, Heavy Construction Services, Automotive,
Entertainment, and Education and Knowledge Creation. Rural traded
employment losses were dominated by the Apparel, the Textiles, and
the Footwear clusters, accounting alone for 385,661 lost jobs over
the last decade... [Actually, Apparel ALONE accounts for nearly a
quarter-million lost jobs, almost HALF total rural job losses. -RF]
If we omit these three clusters, rural areas have actual gained
traded employment faster than metro areas... Job losses in other
clusters were comparatively modest."

[Slide 31 plots the (presumably annual) growth rate of clusters in
rural areas relative to their national growth rate between 1990 and
2001, using larger markers to indicate clusters with larger total
employment. Both Business Services and Entertainment are large
employers, sharing a strong 5% national growth rate, which is 1%
stronger in rural areas. While the large Automotive cluster barely
shows national growth, the rural growth rate is almost 3%. Six other
large employment areas showed growth rates of 2% to 3% or more, and
rural growth rate was within 1% of each of them, either more or less.
They are, with the *relative* performance of rural areas indicated:
Distribution Services (-1%), Transportation and Logistics (-1%),
Education and Knowledge Creation (0%), Financial Services (0%),
Hospitality and Tourism (+1%) and Heavy Construction Services (+1%).

In contrast, national employment in Apparel and Footwear shows
dramatic decline rates, all the worse in rural than metro areas.
Footwear decline rate is 9% nationally, and 2.7% worse in rural
areas. Apparel decline rate is 5.5% across the nation and 2.8% worse
in rural areas. That's a loss of most, almost 3 in 5, rural Apparel
jobs over the years 1990-2001.

Other research by Professor Porter was presented at the National
Governor's Association Winter Meeting in February 2002. This includes
a document at: http://www.isc.hbs.edu/georgia_02-26-02.pdf titled:
"Georgia: Profile of the State Economy". It breaks out some numbers
for metro Atlanta, but in general does not segregate data between
metro and rural areas. Still, it should be illuminating to look at,
particularly for what it says about declining industries of great
local interest to our own West Georgia.

Looking at page 17, which shows net job creation in Georgia between
1990 and 1999, only ONE traded cluster shows dramatic declines. Yes,
it is Apparel, with over 30,000 jobs lost. But this chart was
carelessly prepared. The traded cluster with the largest job growth
(Business Services, with over 50,000 new jobs by inference from other
data in the paper) was egregiously omitted from the chart! (Learn
more about this large, fast-growing area of the North American
economy by studying these two Web pages:
http://www.wa.gov/esd/lmea/sprepts/indprof/busines.htm
http://workinfonet.bc.ca/lmisi/bc-econ/BIZSERV/bizserv.html )

In the 1990's, while textile job loss was severe nationally, happily
for Georgia, employment in this area actually increased. But
according to the data on page 17, it was merely by less than 1,000
net jobs. Oddly, another chart on page 25, tells a much more positive
story for textiles. It plots, for each significant traded cluster in
Georgia, the percentage of national employment which is in the state
versus "Percentage of Change, 1990-1999". (Since the x-coordinate of
data can exceed 100%, we deduce this percentage is referenced, as is
traditional, to the more ancient year, 1990.) One presumes this is
the change WITHIN Georgia, but it is difficult to reconcile all the
facts as presented! Textile employment is plotted as growing about
50%, but is numerically marked as growing 13.9%. And BOTH these
numbers contradict the near-to-zero growth mentioned in the previous
paragraph. Which number is correct?!

Anecdotally, a couple years ago "Georgia Trend" wrote about the labor
shortage which the Dalton-cluster carpet mills had faced, despite
wages in the $25,000pa range, and how this led to the need to
actively recruit from Latin America. The Hispanic population growth
there is well known, as it impacts the greatly enhanced need for
English-As-A-Second-Language instruction in the local schools. So I
can only assume there has indeed been significant growth in Georgia
textile employment, even as the new century dawned. Therefore,
friends of layed-off Georgia apparel workers should ask whether the
unemployed might have qualified for such textile jobs, and whether
the state government sufficiently helped this low-wage group of
workers try to connect with such opportunity. I know textiles are
capital-intensive and apparel work is not, but if you can hire a
workforce with marginal English skills for the former, is this sort
of occupational switch that impossible?

The chart on page 25 is also hard to reconcile with other data
presented about Apparel employment. It shows something like a 35%
decline in employment between 1990 and 1999. But the chart on page 13
shows employment of about 30,000 in 1999, while we saw that the chart
on page 17 showed a loss of over 30,000 such jobs between 1990 and
1999, which leads one to infer a job loss of greater than 50%, not
35%. Again, what is going on?]

RECOMMENDATIONS

"The institutional network to support rural economic development
receives a good deal of attention in the literature. The general
consensus among experts is that the set of institutions involved is
overly complex, uncoordinated, and dominated by federal
institutions... Several experts have concluded that the current
institutional network is too focused on agriculture and is outdated
for managing the current challenges in rural areas...

"Many have suggested that there should be a policy focus on the
strategic linkages between rural areas and nearby urban centers...
[The recent entente between the Haralson Chamber of Commerce and
several more metro county chanbers would seem to be in this spirit.]
The USDA recommended, in a 1999 study, to improve connectivity to
urban areas through dissemination of information and improving
infrastructure through investments in advanced telecommunications
infrastructure. This would support targeting of specialized niche
markets and creating flexible manufacturing network where firms work
together...

[Let me tell you a story wherein a much more EXTREME application of
advanced telecommunications might have enabled an employment
opportunity in this area, at least in theory. A couple summers ago I
discussed a business idea with a local incubator which would have
fabricated a device to help with hospice care by recycling obsolete
electronic equipment. This is something I had developed around 1997
and by 2002 even a little competitive analysis revealed it would no
longer be practical to pursue, on account of the astronomical price
deflation of new competitive electronics gear. But for a very short
while I looked into how one could put together the pieces of a firm.
This type of operation would benefit from siting in West Georgia due
to the relative economy of warehouse space which follows from modest
land prices. I also learned through a national publication that a
software executive in a high-tech area of California had ideas very
similar to mine. Might he be interested to run such a business here,
I wondered. This is where telecommunications would have entered.

While the operation of the facility would be far more practical here
than where he lived (if one could do it at all there), perhaps he
would be unwilling to relocate here. I never found out. But I snagged
his e-mail address when I located an ad he had placed online looking
for an expensive recreational airplane. Maybe he would not want to
share airspace with the nation's busiest airport, one guesses. Or
maybe his wife is a pediatrician with a thriving local practice she
wouldn't give up. Or maybe he wouldn't like to give up the low
humidity of California for the summers we have here. Does that mean
he could not have functioned as president of a firm here? No.

With very affordable videoconferencing, he might well have been able
to serve without ever setting foot in Georgia. With wireless links,
he would have been able to explore the recycling plant, interview
hires, take meetings, or look at gear. Oh, it might have proved too
clumsy for him to network at the local Lions Club or the Chamber of
Commerce - but enabling something like this might have been a great
stimulus to increasing the technology literacy of organizations such
as those to their eventual great benefit. We'll never know.]

"A range of authors advocates strategic investments in the rural
business environment, specifically in human capital, transportation
infrastructure, and communication infrastructure around the theme of
'connectivity'... Many others advocate a shift to cluster-focused
rural economic development policies. State and local governments
should invest in social capital and learn what industries are
feasible for growth in their region. Government at all levels should
support clustering activity... A number of authors advocate an end
to distortive agricultural subsidies that flow primarily to rural
areas, and shifts towards higher value added activities in
agriculture... Finally, there has been increasing advocacy for a
bottom-up, community-based planning and policy development processes
in rural areas...

"Overall, many participants in the research debate lament the
disconnect between what is advocated in the literature and current
U.S. rural economic development policy. Policy does not seem to drive
rural development, but responds to special interests. The many
sensible ideas proposed by experts are not acted upon. The evidence
that we have reviews for this report confirms this view. Without a
strong conceptual foundation, it is not surprising that economic
development efforts for rural regions have been particularly
vulnerable to political pork battles between small but well organized
interest groups, frequent institutional redesigns without lasting
effect, and the re-invention of old policies under new names."

[Slide 44 highlights these opportunities and challenges:

"Opportunities for Economic Development in Rural Regions

General trends

Growing congestion and scarcity of land in urban areas

Demographic trends that will produce workforce shortages as the
economy grows, making the rural workforce more valuable [This is a
reference to the greying (aging) of America. But this is not an
advantage relative to metro areas, rather an absolute development.-RF]

Specific clusters

Hospitality and tourism, including recreational activities, second
homes and retirement homes
Specialty agriculture focused on serving urban markets, including
niche products, fresh produce, feed produced using sustainable
methods, and farmers' markets
Outsourcing of services from labor constrained urban areas" [In my
telecom White Paper, I called this'the back office on the back forty']

Specific investment areas

Broadband IT infrastructure
Strategic investments in highways"

Slide 38 offers these further remarks on communications

"The Changing Role of Distance

Deregulation has largely eliminated the cross-subsidies that kept
prices for telecommunications and transportations services in rural
regions artificially low - Offset by increasing efficiency in these
industries
New communications technology (Internet) offers better and cheaper
communications with rural regions This allows efficiencies in
delivering public services and offers new opportunities in attracting
economic activity such as services from metropolitan centers"

Ron Feigenblatt


  Message 1425
From:  "docdtv_wgta"
Date:  Wed Nov 17, 2004  2:29 am
Subject:  Honda plant coming to Tallapoosa


cf. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/WGTA-Discussion/message/1420
"Important new report on rural economic growth and development"

The 15 November 2004 issue of "The Tallapoosa Journal" heralds this
headline: "Honda coming to Tallapoosa", and offers details like:

"Honda announced November 9 it is opening a $100 million production
plant in Tallapoosa, which eventually will bring 400 jobs to the
area... The new 250,000-square-foot plant... will be located on a
300-acre tract... near Interstate 20... The Tallapoosa plant is part
of a broader $270 million North American Powertrain Strategy by
Honda... In [Lincoln] Alabama, Honda will invest $70 million and add
100 new jobs... The Tallapoosa plant initially will support production
of Honda [vehicles] in Lincoln... 'For about 14 years in Haralson
County, we've been looking for something like this.' [Tallapoosa mayor
Micajah] Bagwell said..."

While there was no little bird whispering in my ear, a development of
this sort does not surprise me. Haralson County is located near the
southern extreme of what economic geographer James Rubenstein has
called the (US) Kanban Highway, bounded by Interstate Highways 65 and
75. (cf. case study 2 on
http://www.learner.org/powerofplace/themes26.html and related notes at
http://www.ac.wwu.edu/~patrick/geo312/the-power-jit.htm )

Surely a more timely example of the role of "clustering", which
I recently discussed in the posting cited above, couldn't be made.

Anyway, such notions led me to send the following e-mail to the folks
at the Haralson County Chamber of Commerce about four years ago:

-----------------============================---------------

Date: Mon, 08 Jan 2001 05:44:01 +0000
To: lauria Wade
From: R I Feigenblatt
Subject: heads up on possible industrial prospect?

Hello Lauria and Joan,

Do you guys read the "Atlanta Business Chronicle" regularly?
If not, perhaps you might appreciate this "heads up":

From
http://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/stories/2001/01/01/weekinbiz.html?t=printable
...
"Japan-based Toyota Motor Corp. has not decided whether it will build
a new engine plant in Georgia.
...

I'm sure the GDITT is right on the case, but I don't think they have a
special interest in steering this work to Haralson per se.

Would it be useful for you guys to make a presentation to the Toyota
people (if the story is true)? I am sure the ultimate "yes" must come
from a Japanese, but I bet they have lots of American corporate real
estate people who might be interested to hear a pitch from you. I am
sure other county development authorities might consider a similar
course, and I don't know that Toyota would take you up on the offer -
but does it hurt to try?

Auto plants cost about $250 a square foot and employ 1 to 2 workers
per 1,000 square feet. Thus, the hypothetical Toyota plant would be
about a million square feet and employ one to two thousand people.

After Honda announced its Lincoln, Alabama plant, there were related
developments in feeder plants for Rome and Rockmart. It is not beyond
belief that Haralson County could be the site of an auto or
auto-feeder plant.

It is amusing to compare the population distribution around Lincon
with that around Haralson. An imprecise but picturesque way to do this
is to fly directly above the two places in turn at night and look at
the lights from the neighboring cities.

I have drawn the hemispherical view down from 33,000 feet in the two
cases. (At that flying altitude, the Earth's horizon is about 229
miles away.)

The one for Haralson is here:
http://home.earthlink.net/~docdtv/Haralson/satphoto.jpg
While the one for Lincoln, Alabama is here:
http://home.earthlink.net/~docdtv/Haralson/Lincoln.jpg

[I still have copies of these, but stopped publishing them when I
"moved" from Earthlink to Bellsouth. Find a "repurposed" version of
the first image, with added textual annotation, referenced from my
"Haralson County, Georgia data sources portal" at
http://bellsouthpwp.net/d/o/docdtv/Haralson/index.html
viz., http://bellsouthpwp.net/d/o/docdtv/Haralson/satphoto.jpg -RF]

In both pictures, the same six large cities (orbiting a hub at
Anniston) dominate the view - cities which provide nearby buyers for
manufactured vehicles. (Think ACMBHC hexagon, not ABC triangle?)

Both Lincoln and Haralson, being rural, escape the traffic, taxes and
regulations of a big city. But at the same time, within an hour's
drive of such a city, they are able to draw on a huge skilled labor
pool which can entertain such a daily commute (OUT of the city -
opposite to most traffic) given the high wages paid autoworkers.
In the long run, the plentiful land in the rural environs also
provides an opportunity to relocate close to work sited there.

I'm sure you know how to pitch the county, citing the north-south four
lane (27) and east-west Interstate (20); the parallel rail lines; the
empty industrial park under construction; the forthcoming local
technical school campus; and so on. Now that 120 is four-laned as far
as Dallas, it is not unthinkable it could be four-laned all the way to
Buchanan as well, given proper incentives. I do not have an intimate
understanding of auto manufacture, but I bet all these factors are
attractive to that industry today.

Personally, I'm not sure I want a giant auto plant half a dozen miles
from home, but if that it is the sort of thing for which you guys are
working, I'll wish you good luck.

Best, Ron

-----------------============================---------------

Well, the Honda plant will be rather smaller than the hypothetical
Toyota plant, and more than twice as far as well, so I'm not unhappy.

It probably didn't hurt that Haralson High art teacher Jeff Abney
teaches Japanese Raku ceramics and looks to develop a "Celebration of
Japan" week when he returns home from Japan after his Fulbright visit.
At the least, it helps mitigate nasty remarks by local dinosaurs which
followed on the accidental sinking of the "Ehime Maru" shortly after I
wrote the e-mail cited above.

It's interesting that Honda waited until a week after the US election
to make this announcement. One wonders what might have happened had
someone who spoke about industrial "Benedict Arnolds" been elected
president, as if capital located in this country was not the rightful
property of its owners, whether they were Americans, Japanese, or an
amalgam of international investors, who in less presumptuous times
would have been thought entitled to dispose of it as they saw fit.

Still, that's not to say there were ANY major candidates addressing
the long-term economic well-being of US in a responsible way, even to
the extent one could given his would-be limited realm of
resposibility, e.g. the current massive budget deficit and burgeoning
unfunded long-term social liabilities of the federal government.

But then, maybe the politicians are just a reflection of contemporary
American society. The personal savings rate has plunged from about 10%
to ZERO over the last twenty years (Commerce Dept. definition; the Fed
definition would have you believe buying something like a bass boat
for weekend use is a form of "savings", LOL.) And Americans pay for
their current annual half-trillion dollars in net imports through the
net purchase of US-based assets by foreigners in a similar amount. God
help this country of it ever again has to generate business capital
out of something like real domestic personal savings!

Ron Feigenblatt

P.S. I love my Honda - but you couldn't tell that from the way I've
neglected its exterior lo these many years...