The Economics of the Immigrant Story

The Economics of the Immigrant Story

The Economics of the Immigration StoryI’ve driven on the state highways through the withering small towns on Kansas and Oklahoma.

Small towns of one to six thousand struggle to maintain schools, main streets and basic infrastructure.

One town boasts of having a citizen that discovered the Planet Pluto.

Those same towns now are losing the last of their children to out migration.

They have little industry, they have no diversity, they haven’t the work force if an industry came to their town.

They are at a critically demographic stage in the history of their community. A community that has thrived for about one hundred years.

Walmarts have had an effect on these small communities. All of the “ma and pa” businesses have been quietly erased from most every Main Street.

The bike shop, the hardware store, the grocery store, sporting goods, automotive, pharmacy, optometry, and most any commercial business that could produce revenue for a small community has succumb to the big box store.

Years ago I attended a seminar about a business that I’d barely heard of…..It was called Walmart. There was only one Walmart in Iowa at the time and none in my state of Minnesota.

The Iowa State professor suggested that he was under scrutiny by the company because he was paying attention to their business practices and how fast they were expanding.

The concept of Ethics in Business is a rather dubious topic and that wasn’t his presentation. He helped us understand the changing economic landscape and how it would effect small businesses throughout the nation.

Big box stores were coming to a town near you and as with any living organism adaptability is the key!

If you were a mom and pop shop selling bicycles you needed to understand that they had decided to claim the less expensive bike market as their own. You would not survive because they were more than willing to sell below your price to acquire this market.

Their distribution network would take decades to build but it would ensure that what ever product they were selling, they could get it to their doorstep five to six percent cheaper than any other chain store in the nation.

The concepts were big, bold and effective. It had little to do with ethics, they provided the public with less expensive products.

———Back to our withering small towns throughout the midwest.

I return home to a community that would be demographically off the charts. All of my older original customers are dead and gone.

They were replaced by their children that were my age. Those people are now retiring and becoming a less viable part of retail economies.

Their children have most all been a part of the “out migration” into larger cities. This has been happening throughout the nation for decades.

Our community is quite different than the Kansas and Oklahoma towns that struggle to keep windows from being boarded up on their main streets.

We have a pork industry that requires hard and somewhat undesirable work, we have found a source of infinite labor.

Few white folks in work at pork processing plants.

The immigrants in my community speak sixty four different languages, they have come to our community to work, prosper and to raise their children.  (recently our YMCA soccer team won the state championship!-nearly 100% immigrant children)

They also bring business acumen with them and some start businesses in empty store fronts.

Some succeed mightily and some attempt and fail. I think more of them for having tried.

In a few short decades, before my eyes I see their children as educators, professionals, soldiers, officers, doctors, etc.

Upon their arrival many locals didn’t comprehend and understand the progression of events.

These newly arrived immigrants wanted nothing more than to blend into our society.

They worked, they saved, they bought a shiny new car.

They worked, they saved and bought the “starter home” that had sat empty for two years since Gramma died.

They have found a place in our community and our store fronts reflect the vibrant and eclectic mix of our new found friends.

Immigration isn’t clean and simple, it requires patience and a little self reflection on our own historic past.

It requires self reflection and learning from mistakes that always occur. It is helped by extending a hand.

This community isn’t dying like the hundreds & hundreds of communities that dot the prairies of the mid west.

These immigrants generate tax revenue, they buy cars, groceries, homes, and televisions, they populate our schools (over 60%).

A demographer could place a stethoscope on the heart of this community and diagnose that it is alive and well.


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