The editorial in the Hillsboro Free Press two weeks ago has hit a nerve with more than one individual, and it’s not only coming from those who agree with Joey Young’s viewpoint.
Kevin Suderman’s well-written letter to the editor was an insightful and enlightening response, providing a voice for those who have a different perspective than Young’s.
Though it is good that we are having a public discussion about this mystery business, it is unfortunate this debate did not occurred 30 or 40 years ago. That was when a large chunk of manufacturing resources of this country began to shut down local operations and businesses began to relocate overseas.
In that context, nothing has changed since then.
Walk into any store within the city limits of Hillsboro or any other small town in Marion County, and you can find evidence of that major paradigm shift that remains to this day.
Do you remember Wal-Mart’s ad campaign to “buy American”? I do. Not long after, they quietly abandoned it for one less controversial. They had to change their public relations campaign to reflect the new reality. The juggernaut of unit trains carrying cheap imports from China was already crossing the Great Plains bound for domestic markets.
However, I also remember that much of Main Street USA abandoned that idea as well.
Products that carry the slogan, “Made in the USA” are generally in the minority. Even big-ticket items like autos, though some are made in other countries, those made in America also contain components made in overseas plants. Farm equipment hardly fares any better on this matter.
My question to the reader is, what are we doing to create new opportunities that can capitalize on this up-and-coming change in the community? Plus, rather than rally against a potential competitor to local business, why not focus on customer service and a marketing strategy that makes our business a better choice?
The good news is that American manufacturers are able to compete quite well in the current environment. They are finding that as manufacturing costs go up overseas, due to rising labor costs and a rising standard of living in developing countries, the rising cost to import cheaper goods from overseas is unsustainable.
That should be good news to American communities, large and small, should it not? It just might be a renaissance of sorts that our nation needs to rebuild infrastructure and employ more people.
Small towns and rural communities are a great place to live and raise a family. That is a big problem, however, when we see change as a threat rather than an opportunity.
It is one thing if we want to keep the small town feel. It is another matter if we want to keep the small-town mentality that resists any change.
Within a small community, due to its limitations and inability to pay everyone a living wage, people will work and shop elsewhere. We cannot stop that without legislating behavior or becoming an oppressive, dominating force.
That said, our best route to turning an obstacle into a positive force for the community is to build on the momentum a new business creates and move forward from there.