Thursday, January 7, 2010

A long road back?

Some of you may be familiar with the City of Franklin, which is a community of 8,000 over in peanut country in the eastern part of the state. International Paper, the major employer in the City, announced last October the plant will close ending more than 1,000 jobs.

The Virginia Pilot carried a couple of pieces recently that were focused on lessons to learn from the experiences of Martinsville after the closure of textile factories there in the 90's. The unemployment rate there still typically leads the state. The community has some successes to celebrate in terms of new firms, but these are typically much smaller than plants that were lost. There are also some hopeful stories related in the article about individual entrepreneurship. Bottom line however, is that it's a long road back form a loss like that experienced in Martinsville and Franklin.

If you think about the long term there are important things going on in Martinsville that didn't get covered in the story. Community foundations, higher education, and business-focused non-profits are doing important work for building the community's economic future.

I know Franklin was working on support for entrepreneurs before the closure. In the crush I know they're under to deal with the immediate crisis I'm hopeful they'll be able to keep these longer term projects on the agenda.

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