Appalachia: This Is What Economic Revival Looks Like

On October 2, 2015 · 0 Comments

erllThe economy of southern Ohio has been devastated for years. Coal mining jobs that once paid $40,000 a year have been replaced by minimum wage service jobs–or nothing at all. Oil and gas hit bottom. And while loggers still work the forests, the timber is shipped directly to Japan and Germany, with no secondary wood processing jobs in the region. While the rest of the state has a 4 percent unemployment rate, the 1 1 counties in the Appalachian part of Ohio average as high as 17 percent.

“If you don’t have a job at Ohio University, you’re poor,” says June Holley, president of the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks (ACEnet).

But when ACEnet sought ways to invigorate the economy, the group realized that the area had one unrecognized asset: hundreds of tiny manufacturing firms. “We did a lot of research and were inspired by northern Italy, where hundreds of thousands of very small manufacturing firms were created in 15 years,” explains Holley. The secret was targeting markets, then working in collaborative ways to meet the …

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