How Places Like Columbus, Indiana, Outrank Silicon Valley
When Pat Wilson arrived in Columbus, Indiana, in the early 1970s, it was because she’d left behind Hazard — the small, Kentucky coal-mining town that inspired The Dukes of Hazzard. To her, Columbus was a way out, she says.
Situated about 50 miles south of Indianapolis, Columbus was also a way in. It offered Wilson things she couldn’t find in Hazard: access to a small but growing population, plenty to do around town, and, most importantly, a good job with benefits.
She started working as a recruiter for Cummins, Inc., the multinational engine manufacturing company headquartered in Columbus, where she’s lived ever since. She semi-retired in 2001 and then delved into public service, first working for Columbus’s mayor and later for the city’s economic development board, where she remains to this day.
”Finding work has never been too difficult here,” she says.
Working for one manufacturing company for 30 years and then semi-retiring might not seem too thrilling on its surface. But in an era when “rust belt decline” has become a sad cliche and national unemployment numbers are consistently near 8 percent, it’s worth thinking about the American cities where recessions have been remarkably absent, where manufacturing thrives, where populations continue to rise.
That’s exactly what Area Development magazine did this summer when it compiled its list of “Leading Locations” for 2012.