Sunday, November 20, 2011

There is a Transformational Shift in the Industrial Belt

I admit my mood tends to swing based on the amount of money I happen to have at the time. We've hit a bit of a dry spell....or....rather, we're back to the dry spell after a deceptively prosperous month or so. And right before Thanksgiving which has me feeling a little less than exuberant.

But no matter, the Muskegon Critic household will be Giving Thanks for our vast American bounty at Grandma and Grandpa's house. I'll crack a quart of my homemade pickled beets and a couple quarts of my homemade apple sauce made with HONEYCRISP APPLES....which I don't care what you say or think but honeycrisp apple applesauce is hands down the most amazing apple sauce you will ever have. Maple undertones.

I'll bring some of my homemade bread.

It's all good.

But as tough as it continues to be, there's fantastic news on the horizon:

MUSKEGON — Two leading West Michigan's companies have joined forces to plan a Muskegon manufacturing center designed to support the state's growing commercial wind industry.

L3 Combat Propulsion Systems in Muskegon and Rockford Berge in Grand Rapids have established the Michigan Wind Energy Consortium, which includes other companies, with the intention of forming an industrial center.

Yeah, baby. That's green manufacturing. Add it to the heap. The advanced battery manufacturing plants that have come to West Michigan as a DIRECT result of this Administratoin's policies, and wind power manufacturing plants coming to support an industry growing as a DIRECT result of this Administration's investment in wind power and renewables from the stimulus package.

I honestly do not care what other folks say. I do not. I don't.

I don't care.

Cuz I've seen a withering industrial economy with double digit U6 unemployment crumbling for years, and years, and years. I've read the articles for most of a decade about businesses shutting down, moving out, leaving forever. This recent rash of OPENINGS, of companies talking about OPENING UP SHOP's unreal.

Is it moving as fast as I want? No. But is it moving AT ALL? Absolutely. The century old paper mill closed down in 2009. An advanced battery manufacturing plant, with tax credits championed by Joe Biden himself, has broken ground and will be opening next year, employing hundreds of people previously displaced by the closing paper mill.

Yesterday I drove by a local car dealership and looked longingly at the new Chevy Sonic...the replacement for the Korean made Chevy Aveo...NOW built in Orion Township, MICHIGAN. 35 miles per gallon on the highway.

As of May 30, 2011 the plant employs 159 salaried employees and 1,300 hourly employees.

I mean...holy shit.

Think there isn't a transformational shift going on in the Industrial belt RIGHT NOW, think again. But it doesn't happen overnight. It doesn't happen even in the matter of a year. But it's happening. And it's happening RIGHT NOW. It's happening RIGHT NOW directly from policies of THIS administration, from refusing to let America's domestic auto manufacturing industry crumble to supporting green manufacturing...there is a DIRECT correlation to what is happening now in this town that has held some of the highest unemployment in America for most of a decade.

When the advanced battery manufacturing plant in Muskegon is up, when a wind turbine manufacturing center opens in the abandoned hull of the paper mill center, when local manufacturers and machine shops are tooled to make parts for cars that were once made in Korea but are now made in the USA........this town's economic malaise will be a distant memory. And we'll have to make damn sure it never comes back.

That's the burden. That's the burden all over America.

We're never coming back to this place again. I don't ever want to come back to this place again. I want to build a society where we never come back to this place where we leave a loaf of high calorie homemade bread on the counter because we know it's cheap to make and our kids will eat on it over the course of the day. 1900 calories per loaf, enough to fuel a 180 pound man for a day. 45 cents of flour and butter and shortening.

Where was I?

Ah yes.

The manufacturing center.

I'm for it. I'm happy about it. I'm grateful for even the possibility.

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