Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The Chicago Tribune on Dayton Manufacturing Malaise

The good old Chicago Tribune did an extensive article in their Sunday Magazine section on the end-game for the industrial Midwest. I excerpted the passage on Dayton at Urban Ohio if anyone cares to read it (though the entire article is quite good, and deals with a variety of locations)

One part I thought was particularly interesting was this passage, quoting county administration (and erstwhile member of the Riverdale Rats) Joe Tuss:

Dayton, like most Midwestern manufacturing towns and cities, fought this trend. It held on to its shrinking factories, supported them at all cost, assuming that what went down must come up again. They remained the biggest employers in town. Besides, having lived off them for a century, nobody could imagine life without them.

"It's been death by a thousand cuts," Joe Tuss, the Montgomery County economic development director, told me. "We've been blessed and cursed. We've hung on to the core manufacturing jobs much longer than most places. We allowed a large workforce to make a good union wage. But now the economic forces are catching up with us . . . in a big way. The Delphi bankruptcy is our tipping point. We have to try to reinvent ourselves--but this work to preserve our base, it all took time and energy away from reinventing ourselves."

Interesting, that bolded quote. Tuss is saying that Dayton is behind the power curve in preparing for the transition to the new economy.

But also, an interesting observation on how the era of mass production jobs at good wages lasted much later here, that Dayton was sort of an anachronism, a living economic fossil, due to Delphi/Delco and GM, and maybe the tool and die industry.

More on manufacturing at this post,
...and in this Urban Ohio thread,
...and a historic look and the long postwar slide here.

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