I just read Scott P. Richert’s “Always Dead Downtowns. Always” (The Rockford Files, December 2003). This is the bicentennial year for Clearfield County, Pennsylvania. Our history is tied to natural resources: timber (pine spars for the tall ships); clay and coal (firebrick and coke for the burgeoning steel industry in Pittsburgh); and coal after World War II for electricity. Thanks, in large part, to foreign competition and environmentalism, our economy is bust.
Wal-Mart built a Supercenter as well as a distribution center in our area. Because of our dire employment situation, the company was hailed as an economic savior. Jobs were provided, but nothing to compete with coal-mining jobs in salary and benefits. However, since the Supercenter was built, all locally owned businesses in “competition” have folded—plus Kmart, Ames, and other non-locally owned businesses. In December, the last of the major grocery competitors (BiLo) announced its closing.
We are now economic serfs to our overlord in Arkansas.