The manufacturing backlash: No factory in my backyard


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The more common outcome is delays, as local opponents mount legal challenges and throw up other roadblocks. In Marshall, residents petitioned to hold a referendum on the project, gathering over 800 signatures in a city of 6,800. That effort is stalled, however, after the town rejected the petition. Activists are now suing.

James Durian, CEO of the Marshall Area Economic Development Alliance, which has spearheaded the development, said he understands that some residents were startled by the project’s size and the speed at which it came together. But he contends that was necessary to land Ford.

Durian said he understands the concerns about the Chinese involvement in the project. The U.S. has an adversarial relationship with China, but he said it has gotten “a little weird and paranoid.”

Sue Damron, owner of Schuler’s Restaurant and Pub in downtown Marshall, supports the project. She believes factory workers will move to Marshall to work for Ford. “The people coming to work for Ford have spouses and children,” she said. “They will give me an employee base to add to my small business.”

But Chapman, the toolmaker, remains skeptical. His house sits across the street from the Ford site, known as BlueOval Battery Park, and he’s been approached about selling his house to the developers. But he doesn’t want to move.

Meanwhile, he sees a looming labor problem. The jobless rate in surrounding Calhoun County is 4.6 percent – above the national jobless rate of 3.6 percent – but still low by historical standards. He notes that the factory he works at, in nearby Battle Creek, has struggled to find skilled workers.

“I’m in the industry. I see it,” he said, adding that his company has even recruited workers from Mexico to fill positions. “It’s just weird, there’s not a supply of workers.”

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Lisa Holden
Lisa Holden
Lisa Holden is a news writer for LinkDaddy News. She writes health, sport, tech, and more. Some of her favorite topics include the latest trends in fitness and wellness, the best ways to use technology to improve your life, and the latest developments in medical research.

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