Textile Mill Abandoned

I visited an abandoned textile mill in North Carolina, recently.

The mill, shut decades ago, stands as a symbol of how our economy is in continual flux as it struggles to adapt within the global marketplace.

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Textile production and processing began in the Southeastern United States in the late 19th century. By 1923, more than 84,000 textile workers were employed at more than 350 mills across North Carolina.

 

By the 1950s, North Carolina had become the preeminent textile producing state, ranking #1 in virtually every industry category.

This one once processed cotton.
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The industry reached its peak in 1992 when textile production represented 16 percent of total manufacturing output, as compared to the U.S. average of just over two percent of total manufacturing in textiles.
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In 1996, there were 2,153 textile and apparel plants in North Carolina employing 233,715 people.
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But, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of people employed in textile manufacturing in the state from 2004 to 2011 fell by nearly 6,000.  Total employment today stands at around 80,000.
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Today, there are mills which have survived the changes through competitive pricing models and technological innovations.We can only hope that our economy continues to adjust and meet the needs of its people as it walks into 2016.
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Durham Mayor Bell: Same-sex marriage ban is bad for business

I tell clients Durham, North Carolina didn’t end up being one of the nation’s top 10 food destinations or become the home to the country’s 4th best-rated performing arts center by accident. It has required diverse groups to come together toward a common goal: Creating a world-class city representing equality for all. Durham Mayor William Bell says banning same-sex marriage isn’t just bad for the moral fabric of Durham, it’s bad for business. 

Designing a jobs plan around a city map

There’s a lot of talk surrounding investment in infrastructure as a means to create jobs for Americans, more than 10 million of whom are out of work. President Obama this week unveiled his jobs plan that would inject $447 billion into projects covering bridges, roads, and other public structures that are and have been in decay for years. The rationale behind the proposal is two-fold: to create jobs for unemployed Americans and to promote the transport of U.S. goods for interstate commerce and foreign export.  Awesome.

One of my paranoid projections is that we invest in the highway infrastructure around cities and continue to promote sprawl. I submit sprawl is not only an environmentally bad eyesore, but it also degrades cohesion of the workforce and scatters the unemployed population across miles of terrain. Perhaps sprawl is one reason why telecommuting has become so popular in some areas.

I haven’t seen the details of the plan, but I would hope any jobs plan would include a framework for how cities function, as they are the center of where Americans live and work. Or at least want to.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only 16 percent of Americans overall live in rural areas. While there are Americans still moving outside of cities, they are predominantly older retirees.  Just look at a new trend of reporting on the best retirement cities in America, such as Durham, N.C.

But this isn’t the population Obama is addressing when he says, “You know, we’ve got a lot of folks in Congress who love to say how they’re behind America’s jobs creators…Well, if that’s the case, then you should be passing this bill. Because that’s what this bill is all about, is helping small businesses all across America.”

Durham, NC Tobacco District (photo, Derek Anderson / Indyweek)

Small businesses downtown will create jobs only if we have a plan. With outer suburban areas growing quickly, urban job centers are at risk. In many ways, we’re feeding the brain without maintaining a beating heart. America’s cities are its primary job centers – we need to figure out how to integrate them with the growing suburbs. Some call it sustainable urban development.  Some call it smart growth.

Whatever its label, a successful jobs program employs a long-term vision that promotes technological innovation, creates jobs, improves quality-of-life in our nation’s cities, and pulls us together as a culture of people, not just as a culture of the trained and employed.