Monday, October 20, 2008

Surviving the economic downturn in the non-metropolitan high plains

Kirk Johnson's story in yesterday's New York Times, "Through Boom and Bust, Hanging on in the High Plains," features Sterling, Colorado, population 11,360. In particular, it focuses on two businesses there which appear to be surviving at the onset of an economic downturn, and in the face of the Wal-Mart behemoth. Here's a description of one of the businesses, Marsau's Auto Parts, which was founded just before the Great Depression. The owner says the business has survived by diversifying:

Marsau’s, set in a low-rise red-brick building and unchanged in d├ęcor since it opened in 1928, is a story of survival writ small. The wooden shelves are deeply grooved from use. Dogs lounge underfoot in the sun that streams through an open door on a fall afternoon. The grime and grit remain enthusiastically unscrubbed.
Johnson reports that the economic forecast for the area is bleak in terms of corn and wheat prices, but promising in terms of renewable energy. That is, 400 construction workers are expected to arrive in 2009 to build wind turbines, bringing with them a temporary spike in sale tax revenues.

The accompanying slide show here is well worth a look.

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