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Thread: One-industry communities

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Hceux's avatar
    Oct 2003
    In Wasteland of Cedar Trees

    One-industry communities

    Are one-industry communities a dying part of the North American landscape?

    I read an article from the Trentonian (for the area of Trenton, ON), which was about how Batawa, a one-industry hamlet based on the production of shoes by Bata, may be on its way out as Bata is refusing to upgrade its infrastructure and to stay there for much longer. Here's the article: Will Batawa be a ghosttown soon?

    And it got me thinking about one-industry communities. I personally don't know that many of them. Most of the ones are small like Batawa (only 300 people or so) and they are located out in the sticks which prevent them from prospering or re-innovation. A few towns have been revitalized. These ones include Sudbury, ON, (a mining and government town) and Elliot Lake (once a mining town, but now a retirement community that's trying to also become a cottage country).

    What are your take on this?

  2. #2
    Corn Burning Fool giff57's avatar
    Jul 1998
    On the Mother River
    I happen to run one. Here is the link to our industry. We are small 1,470 people and we would do most anything to keep them happy. Ours like most I think, started here in someones garage and grew from there.
    “As soon as public service ceases to be the chief business of the citizens, and they would rather serve with their money than with their persons, the State is not far from its fall”
    Jean-Jacques Rousseau

  3. #3
    Cyburbian DecaturHawk's avatar
    May 2003
    In the palm of the mitten
    Well, certainly the best example of a one-industry town in the US is Detroit. While the suburban counties have diversified, the city still holds to its automotive heritage and recovery is still slow. Flint is in similar straits.

    Waterloo, Iowa depended on two agricultural industries-farm implement manufacturing and meat packing. Both declined at the same time, leading to massive unemployment there in the 1970's and 80's. Last I knew, there was still a hulking meat packing plant along the Cedar River that has been vacant for years which is too expensive to demolish and clean up. I'm sure that there are other good examples.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
    Dec 2001
    West Valley, AZ
    I think anywhere in the rustbelt you can find one industry communities.

    Coal mining towns, iron mining, copper mining, farm equipment towns, distellery/brewery towns, glass towns, or as DecaturHawk stated, autos.

    Many of these towns failed to diversify and are struggleing or no more.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
    Aug 2001
    The Cheese State
    The city I used to work for was a one-industry town, twice. In the 1800's it made farm machinery. When the plant closed in 1892, several other businesses closed soon after (paper mill, brickyard, etc.) as the jobs and people left. The population took 60 years to reach the 1890 level again. It then became a college town. Only in the last decade has the employment base truly diversified. Its survival had to do with location. As you suggest, many of the more rural communities may not get a second chance.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
    Jul 2003
    SW-Coastal WA
    I am thinking "Richland, WA" -- whose economy is heavily dependent upon the nuclear plant there. In fact, it was a tiny town of ...um... a few thousand (?) until the government decided to build the plant. It exploded "overnight" (in like 3 years) to 10s of thousands...where it still is (like Columbus, GA, it is bounded on 3 sides by impassable barriers and growth is seriously hampered). Every few years, the government has layoffs -- throwing the town into a recession. And then, a few years later, it rehires people, creating a temporarily booming economy. When I lived there, they seemed to be desperately trying to diversify.

    The above facts made it incredibly hard to find good housing in Richland. They had a building boom in the '70's, then I think NO new apartment complexes were built in the '80's and, when I arrived, another building boom was on. So you had your choice of ancient apartments -- many of them former bachelor pads that had to be converted to family use when they outlawed "adults only" communities as discriminatory, and, therefore, really sucky apartments if you actually had kids -- or brand new stuff that the relatively rich folks who worked for the nuclear plant could afford but we could not. A year later, the local recession had begun, rents were dropping, and we moved into one of these brand-new apartment complexes that had been out of our reach the year before.

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