WE’LL GET THERE FAST AND THEN WE’LL TAKE IT SLOW…. It’s always good to see stimulus success stories.
Kokomo is going back to work.
A year and a half ago the fate of this car town, home to four Chrysler plants and a Delphi facility, was as uncertain as the American auto industry itself.
Now, thanks largely to the federal government, the town’s unemployment rate has gone from over 20% to under 14%.
Economists disagree over the real nationwide impact of the massive stimulus jolt orchestrated by President Obama. But here in Kokomo, the Recovery Act and Obama’s auto bailout have jolted Kokomo back to life — keeping big industry from fleeing and attracting newcomers as well.
“We wouldn’t be standing here,” said Brian Harlow, a 32-year Chrysler veteran who grew up in Kokomo and now is based at the company’s headquarters outside Detroit. “It would have been a ghost town.”
Obviously, when a community’s unemployment rate is above 13%, it’s not exactly thriving. But in this Indiana town, new jobs have been created, investments are being made, and plants that were closed are starting to get back into gear. Even the downtown area has been revitalized thanks to another stimulus program.
From government managers to corporate execs, nearly every leader in Kokomo attributes the turnaround to the federal government’s willingness to step in.
“We would not be manufacturing in the United States if it wasn’t for the stimulus money,” said Lisa Hardwick, Delphi’s plant manager, during a tour of the facility.
If I were advising Democrats, I’d be talking about communities like Kokomo quite a bit.
And if I were a Democratic candidate in Indiana, I’d be asking Republican candidates why they opposed the one piece of legislation that rescued this community from collapse.
* Postscript: Was the headline too subtle? Or too corny?