The Rockford Files

A Month in the Life of the Industrial Midwest

Letter From Rockford

News Item: "Motorola Inc. will close its only U.S. cellular-phone manufacturing operation, putting 2,S00 of 5,000 people out of work to ease sagging profits amid increased global competition. Employees who will remain at the 1.3 million square-foot plant that opened in 1996 will focus on research, marketing and other activities for the cellular market..." ("Motorola cuts 2,500 in Harvard," Rockford Register Star, January 21, 2001).

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The first announcement came like a thief in the night. Only four years ago. Motorola's Harvard plant had opened to great fanfare: Politicians and business leaders viewed Motorola's investment in Northern Illinois as a sign that the greater Rockford area was poised to ride the crest of the high-technology wave. Perhaps it would have, if that wave hadn't come crashing to shore. The Galvin family, who founded Motorola in 1928 and run it to this day, seem to be Midwestern patriots who would rather keep the bulk of their operations in the United States. But the dirty little secret of NAFTA and the NATO was not the immediate job losses—which were covered up by both the Clinton administration and its "conservative" critics— but that the rules of the current "free trade" regime are structured in such a wav that a company like Motorola may not be able to survive an economic recession without transferring jobs overseas. To keep its cell...

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