Read about Racine, Wisconsin in the New York Times, “On Lake Michigan, a Global Village,” by Steve Lohr. Gary Becker is mayor of Racine, and according to the article, “Racine’s future, Mr. Becker believes, lies in forging stronger links with the regional economy and global markets. Reinvention can be unnerving, he acknowledges, but he says it is his hometown’s best shot at prosperity and progress.”

“In the past, Racine was a self-contained economy,” Becker said. “But that is not an option anymore.” A key observation is that “in a world where new technologies can quickly upend an industry and China and India loom large on the economic horizon, nobody knows exactly which businesses and skills will prove to be winners.” That’s one reason that government programs to promote specific types of research as the “next big thing” are ill-advised.

The current and previous administrations of the state of Michigan, for example, have decided that life sciences, alternative energy, advanced automotive, manufacturing and materials, and homeland security and defense are “the four competitive-edge technologies” that should receive government subsidy.

The NYT article highlights the work of Olatoye Baiyewu, a Nigerian immigrant who “runs a program to train young, inner-city men as apprentices to electricians, plumbers, carpenters and cement masons.”

  • John Powers

    Wow, it only took Racine 10 years after its next door neighbor Kenosha to start cleaning up its act. The Lakefront in Kenosha is a economic miracle, giving Chrysler (AMC) and it tax abatements the boot, and bringing in PRIVATE development, to make Kenosha one of the finest waterfronts on Lake Michigan.

    Ten years later, Racine is still tearing down JI Case on its lakefront, and starting to take out the garbage strewn around its “global village”. Perhaps if Racine would stop foucsing on being New York Times poster city, and start focusing on maintaining some infrastructure, Racine would see the massive economic (and tax base) growth that Kenosha has seen.