The South Can Rise Again
Once we get through the current economic mess, certain cities and places will emerge winners and losers. The government can pour endless taxpayer dollars to prop up the Midwest car companies, but turning Detroit around looks like a fools errand. The downward spiral began decades ago--precipitated by union unreality and management short-sightedness. Overseas competitors now set up shop in Southern right to work states, paying assembly line employees less in more state-of-the-art factories without cumbersome work rules. GM, Chrysler and to a lesser extent Ford kept lobbying and forestalling higher fuel efficiency standards, while building gas guzzlers in aging factories. These companies have been managed as if their leaders fiddle in a "That Seventies Show" time warp
People, meanwhile, will continue to move away from colder climes. Many blue collar workers won't be picky as long as they can find a job. And increasingly that means heading south to states like Alabama.
I was in Mobile, home to the original American Mardi Gras, over the weekend. Now the local economy is not hopping, but a German company is building a huge new steel mill north of town. The city still hopes to keep its share of the Air Force's contract to build midair jet fueling tankers (fighting off Boeing and Seattle). The container port has received a boost with new facilities and existing freight rail lines lead north. Folks are worried about the national economy, no doubt, but recent activity provides hope and some measure of buoyancy in these rough times, a real contrast to many other places today. If Mobile can link into regional global pathway centers like Atlanta or Houston over the next generation, it's fortunes could be enhanced greatly. High speed rail connections would be a boon.
The South can rise again--this once sleepy region certainly has better prospects than the Great Lakes Rust Land.