“The Little Town That Could:” Canton, North Carolina

Prescription for America……….

(Here it is, the sweeping Canton Mill, that winds over acres of the town’s land, standing tribute to many thousands who made it their life work.)

Eerily alike the children’s tale of hope and encouragement (The Little Engine That Could), the people of Canton, North Carolina, took on “I think I can” mantra in the year 1997, when the town’s main employer, the Champion Paper Mill, threatened to shut down forever.

The townspeople realized they needed to do something extraordinary. Like so many industries in the late 90’s, Champion had determined it was just too costly doing business in the United States due to the fact they needed to adhere to stricter government/EPA regulations on environmental issues. Then, too, there were those pesky union agreements struck years ago, the ones that were no longer relevant in leaner times.

There was just too much cheap foreign competition.

But the townspeople refused to let the mill–and their town–die. After all, that mill had provided the town’s livelihood for generations: Its footprint was too significant (in its heyday, it employed 2000).

So they did something about it. Some substantial townspeople (with deep pockets) pooled together and bought the mill, and when they resuscitated it, they offered it “for sale.” A suitor stepped forward and the new company became Blue Ridge Paper. Today, in a supreme instance of irony of “outsourcing in reverse,”, the mill’s owner is a New Zealander. This new owner came in and scooped it up (while most of US business goes out of country). Placards signify that the mill’s new name is Evergreen.

What did this company/town do that was different? They collectively put into play American ingenuity to turn aside what looked like a pending disaster into a vaulting success story. Oh, it took hard work and a consensus of the parties involved. Both labor and management made significant concessions.

How might you be tied into the Canton Mill story? Check the bottom or side of that milk or orange juice carton your child’s drinking from…Chances are: It comes from Canton. Most of the cardboard cartons that hold those drinks are made right there at the site of this historical factory, (now known as Evergreen). It’s a true instance of American ingenuity and drive, coupled with realistic concessions by all parties involved.

Canton stands today because of their forward-thinking townspeople who refused to “go under.” And we outsiders can take a page from their many-storied book. What can we do? “Buy American” to insure other industries such as the Canton Mill persist.

They’re just too important a resource for us to lose….both historically and economically.

I offer the following important information sent by Rhode Island reader, Diane Tortolani, a Biddy Bytes reader. Thanks, Diane, and may we all become wiser at this, the movement to save our great land by resuscitating American industry:

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A recent television program hosted by Diane Sawyer showed a typical American home, from which all items “Not Made in America” were stripped. End result? One item remained (you guessed it–the kitchen sink). It is a truly graphic representation of what the influx of cheap foreign goods is doing to our country. The real irony? No one is explaining this (except occasional programs such as this.) For instance, did you know that if you expend a mere $64.00 on American goods, that would guarantee 200,000 jobs for Americans?

Now, if we can realize that effect with a mere $64.00 expenditure, imagine the benefits to our economy if we all adapt a conscious effort to “buy American” across the board.

Most people are ignorant of the fact that we are awash in cheap foreign goods due to outdated trade agreements that give foreign competitors a serious leg up; as a result, those foreign countries now overtake us in the world economy.

“BUYING AMERICAN” is one way we can all do our small part. It’s now more important than ever: The very future of our nation depends on it. Now, click on the link to the program Diane Sawyer hosts for an eye-opening experience (Be patient–it takes a moment to load) and send this all-important post to as many of your friends and co-workers as possible. We’re in an economic war to save our nation, and we can’t wait for our legislators to get things done. But know beforehand: It’s not easy these days to ascertain if a product is truly “Made in America.” The second link will help.

Buttons are below to help send this post to others.

http://abcnews.go.com/Business/MadeInAmerica/made-america-resource-guide-find-american-companies/story?id=13057404

And here’s a “Made in America” directory link: http://www.americansworking.com/






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A lifetime teacher and realtor who's now a published writer, Colleen Kelly Mellor is a humorist first, ever aware of the thread that connects us all. Her works have appeared in the WSJ, Providence Journal, and CNN and NY Times-acclaimed medical blog, kevinMD.com, to name a few. All material on this blog is exclusive property of the author and cannot be reproduced without this author's express written consent.
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