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Old 05-03-2020, 06:30 AM
 
Location: equator
5,107 posts, read 2,240,964 times
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What about small towns entirely dependent upon tourism?

Like Ouray, CO or Telluride or Moab, UT? Santa Fe? Towns of only a few thousand with no other economy.
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Old 05-03-2020, 07:25 AM
 
Location: Jack-town, Sip by way of TN, AL and FL
1,282 posts, read 866,176 times
Reputation: 1909
Quote:
Originally Posted by mizzourah2006 View Post
This is probably true. My town falls into group 2. Relatively small town(s) with a University and 3 Fortune 500s that basically are the entire economy.
NW Arkansas is in no way, shape or form considered a 'small town'. Especially for purposes of this thread.
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Old 05-03-2020, 07:42 AM
 
Location: Jack-town, Sip by way of TN, AL and FL
1,282 posts, read 866,176 times
Reputation: 1909
Here is my opinion (I was debating as to which post to respond, and just decided to address them all, and in a very general sense):

1) Small towns are not "dying" in the literal sense of the word. They aren't growing, and many would consider that a slow death over time. But they generally are what they are, and I agree with Larry Caldwell that many of them were based on some type of agriculture. If a factory ended up popping up, maybe it grew some more, then something else, then something else, etc. But for the most parts, towns went as far as their 'growth' took them. These towns will likely not be very affected by COVID at all.

2) It's no secret that there has been an influx of people into city cores in the past 10 years or so. People desiring the urban life, excitement, walkability, etc. Mainly young people. Young people are always going to want some excitement. I think this is going to be stemmed for the time being. Some will stay, some will go, some will come - but it won't be the same growth as before.

3) Suburbs: I think these will continue to grow like never before. Particularly farther out suburbs up to 1.5 or so hours away from urban cores. While teleworking has shown its viability, it won't 100% replace an office setting and seeing coworkers, but it can reduce the need for it. I can see people spending about the half the time in an office, half at home, which means less commutes, which makes longer commutes more viable. If this means the towns are "parasitic" as one poster described, well, that's just the way of the world.

So, to sum it up, your 'far-out' suburbs/small towns, where the suburban sprawl had previously died out, will now be the big winners of the next 10 years.
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Old 05-03-2020, 08:41 AM
 
Location: Myrtle Creek, Oregon
14,362 posts, read 13,916,164 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Therblig View Post
If you get near a point, make it.

Or were you admitting that a vast number of small towns in the US exist, basically, for one industry?
Why do you persist in ignoring the point?

A mine opens and needs miners. They hire workers who move to live near the mine. That's a labor camp. I have no idea if there are a vast number of labor camps in the US. Here in the West, they don't long survive the mine closure, and are called ghost towns after everyone moves away.

A labor camp may survive as a small town if it diversifies its economic base. Small towns around me do very well with small scale manufacturing. They may have started as logging and timber towns, but have diversified into niche markets that are not interesting to the gigabuck corporations of large cities.

I have a friend who does a mail order logo stitching business. If you want a small run of arm patches, or your team logo stitched onto 50 baseball caps, it may have come out of her shop. She only employs about 15 people. Shop space is cheap; she doesn't need a store front. Put together a few businesses like that and you have a small town.

Another local business makes space suit filters for NASA. It's too small a market to attract the high rollers, but bread and butter for a small town. Another local business employs about 20 people manufacturing electronic circuit boards. I have no idea how they found a market, but they have been in business for at least 25 years.

I already explained at length how locals can exploit the endless stream of wealth flowing from the surrounding countryside. The mills may have shut down in 1991 when Dwyer handed down his spotted owl decision, but the land is still there. I don't think brush picking even registered on your radar as an employment base, but it is. During the spring and fall there is a great market for mushrooms. Matsutakes are always welcome in export markets, cedar boughs in full blossom bring $35/lb in the holiday season, and a couple guys can cut 500 lbs a day. With the spike in gold prices, there will be dozens of placer mines working the streams. A couple hundred people making a living that way is a nice contribution to the economic base.

Every kid who grows up in a small town hears the phrase, "You'll never get ahead working for wages." If you work for yourself, you are never unemployed. If UPS and FedEx have local terminals, your market is the world. The era of the factory town has been over for decades.
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Old 05-03-2020, 09:46 AM
 
2,084 posts, read 541,844 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Caldwell View Post
Why do you persist in ignoring the point?
I'm not. I think perhaps you are. (But kudos for taking another swing at your position.)

Yes, it is absolutely possible for a small town to evolve to some sort of... village of artisans. Your hailing from Oregon makes the root of your position clear: the PNW is artisanal everything; I would not be surprised if you have makers of specialty toilet paper and tampons. And much of what you say about "small towns surrounded by wealth" is 100% true...

...there.

I think you are grossly overestimating the situation for most other areas, such as those I've mentioned — the vast plains of Nebraska, the mining-tainted hills and hollers of Appalachia, the isolated forest setting of many ex-mill towns. Few have the sort of vast natural resources, or the swollen population of artisanal types, that your back yard does. Most have one (1) significant natural resource, and it's likely why the town was formed there in the first place, it's likely that resource has been exhausted in one way or another, and it's even likely that the exhaustion of that resource pretty much ruined the place for most alternatives.

For one thing that might not occur off the bat to an PNWer, quite a few towns have strictly limited water availability; potential growth is limited by that with no good solution.

So yes: given the right set of circumstances and resources, a town could be quite bustling as a colony of small makers and builders. But that's a special circumstance, not a generic model that would/should/could work anywhere. And, really, it's not a model for a vibrant, sustainable community; it would be like all the towns that have swelled with self-employed/outside-employed newcomers: a whistle stop for most of them before they move somewhere else for continued opportunity. I certainly don't see generational production of filters for NASA or truffle hunting or curated weed growing.

A small town needs one or two significant economic anchors to thrive and survive; since it can't have everything, it has to have everything a farming, or mining, or logging or mill or factory town needs for its residents to prosper. Breaking that base up into 250 barn entrepreneurs can work, for certain times and places... but it's no longer really a small town except in being a clot of people.

Thus I maintain that what most people think of as "small town America" is largely something as lost as buggy rides and county fairs: those towns dependent on farming or mining or whatever that lose that economic and community base simply have no future. Not by the hundreds, anyway, and not in places with no terribly desirable qualities to draw new folks and plant families.

As for your whole screed on one-industry towns being labor camps... whatever. Your evolved, 21st century wokey-woke mindset on this is why folks still clinging to a fading aspect of American life really, really hate the folks on the coasts. Go find any timber town in a 100 mile radius and get up on a soapbox about how they're all really corporate slaves and labor prisoners. Get back to us if you can.
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Old 05-03-2020, 10:47 AM
 
Location: Boston
12,976 posts, read 3,752,095 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Therblig View Post
The current situation is absolutely sui generis. There's little point in trying to make comparisons to any other short- or long-term example, because this is not a town idled because the mill shut down... it's everywhere.

My experience wasn't far away, a town in eastern Connecticut somewhat larger than Bristol in population but a... much smaller town in economic terms. In my time there, I watched business after business close and fail because they stubbornly clung to the notion that all they had to do was rent a building, hang out a discreet sign and quietly wait for all the town's business to come to them.

This was just a few years ago, not decades back. The mindset that if you open, say, a pet food store everyone in the town will buy their pet food there might have worked twenty years ago, certainly fifty. Towns looked to and after themselves. That stopped being the case in this millennium. People will go any damn place they like for their Iams, including twenty miles into the bigger city with its box stores and Petco. But I could not convince a one of them that they needed to do business on a broader model, one that did not stubbornly assume that "because they were good merchants, people would come to them" when they did so little advertising that half the town didn't even know they were there. That was... rude. And a waste of money. And wouldn't work anyway.

Just one small facet, but it's indicative of how small towns need to evolve to be a part of the world around them instead of insisting that their town line encompass everything, in separation and sufficiency. Connecticut has something like 168 towns... probably 100 of which are not really big enough to sustain their own town council, school, fire department and police. But most of them struggle to keep doing so; the smarter ones form union school districts and pay for state police coverage. But that's a minority.

Small towns can and will survive. But not as "whole microcosms" of the nation. Doesn't work that way any more.
colonial government is a losing proposition these days.
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Old 05-03-2020, 10:58 AM
 
4,394 posts, read 3,575,566 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ceece View Post
Progressives want to destroy small town America
Wow, your understanding of US history is woefully lacking. Ever hear of "extraction economies," the mining, logging, oil companies? You know--the one's who took the natural resources from those small towns- and the money too. All of those businesses were the bane of the local labor forces which fed the coffers of some of wealthiest companies on earth. It was the people you hate that brought some measure of relief to those small town people in hard times.

And after the timber was cut, the mines mined out, the oil dried up, it was hard times, the extraction companies left and the town was broke. Welfare, job retraining, child care, education--all left to the politically liberal forces to deal with. Any amount of reading our American labor history will show the need for progressive programs as opposed to the heartless anti labor/anti union actions of the people you mistakenly think of as your allies..The old saying--know who butters your bread...
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Old 05-03-2020, 10:58 AM
 
Location: Moving?!
507 posts, read 158,622 times
Reputation: 837
https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-produc...ions-and-maps/

Too many generalizations in this thread.

I expect the recreation dependent areas will be hit very hard in the short term. Longer term, those not too far away from metro areas may actually come out okay as I expect day / weekend driving trips will be more popular in lieu of air travel, especially international.
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Old 05-03-2020, 11:14 AM
 
2,084 posts, read 541,844 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skeddy View Post
colonial government is a losing proposition these days.
I'm sure you had some point to make, here.
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Old 05-03-2020, 11:21 AM
 
2,084 posts, read 541,844 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by riffle View Post
Too many generalizations in this thread.
Not really, except that we got sidetracked into something of a Utopia debate.

The takeaway is simple:
  • Small towns that are near enough a metro center to be a desirable place to live, without any real economic base of their own, will survive just fine. (Bedroom towns.)
  • Towns that retain a solid economic base — being the center of a farming zone, having a mill or factory, having some continuing natural-resources asset, will do fine. (Viable towns.)
  • Towns with real recreation or tourism draw will do fine. (Entertainment towns.)
  • College towns usually fall into one of the above, but a few isolated examples would be viable on that basis. (College towns.)
  • But towns that have none of the above — aren't especially near any metro area, don't have any particularly standout quality of living, have a shrunken or lost economic base, and aren't really anyplace most people would choose for fun — that is, what most people think of, in generic terms, as "small town America" — are pretty well screwed and declining for reasons that cannot be easily corrected. There are hundreds and hundreds of towns in this category that will likely all but vanish in the next few decades.
  • Yes, a few will learn to dig for truffles or become an artisan community or whatever. They won't be out on the Kansas prairie, back highways in the South, anywhere in old mining or ranching country, or any other place where a few self-selecting people chose to live because of local opportunity.
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