Flint’s story

Downtown Flint as seen from the Flint River.

Downtown Flint as seen from the Flint River. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I was a child, Flint, MI was a booming town, it was Buick Town. I’d never call it a particularly attractive place but it was thriving and there were neighborhoods that were pretty. When GM closed almost every plant plus the Buick main office the town was dealt a blow from which it has never really recovered. I went back in 1990 and drove around and was stunned to see the formerly vibrant downtown a shambles and once-prosperous neighborhoods looking run-down and abandoned. They’ve worked hard since then to try to bring the town back, so the above picture is actually how downtown looks now (I’m a little hazy as to where you’d have to be to see the romantic view across the river….).  Downtown looks good again but don’t let it fool you — all the neighborhoods of my childhood memories — school, bicycling, grocery, visiting friends, etc. — are part of gangland now.  Abandoned houses dot the landscape and lots of the rest are run down and people are shot daily; it’s the new murder capital.

I’ve seen it in West Virginia after the steel mills and I know there are other isolated towns where one big industry left and the town declined. After seeing what the loss of one industry could do to one town, I had no problem about bailing out the banks, insurance companies and auto industry. I shudder to think of the whole United States looking like Flint did when Buick was torn down:

Flint's 235-acre complex known as Buick City w...

Flint’s 235-acre complex known as Buick City was in operation from 1904 until 1999. The facility was recently demolished. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m not sure if a lot of people realized the possible repercussions of losing that many industries at once, especially ones that employ people in every state. I don’t disagree that the captains of those industries were jerks who deserved to be taken down many pegs, but I’m glad that we didn’t have to know the loss and devastation my home town has known.

It’s a town full of good people, hard working people who did not deserve to have the rug pulled out from under them. I’m glad that GM was finally taken to its knees – but I’m also glad it still exists and that lots of people are getting jobs again. I hope we figure out a better way for the future so that we don’t have a whole country that’s devastated.

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2 thoughts on “Flint’s story

  1. That’s a very good point you make about saving industries. Your blogs about Flint have shifted my opinions about the bailouts. I was rather annoyed about us bailing out big business while doing little to help smaller businesses. You are right though, this type of devastating change can destroy communities for generations.

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    • I kind of think if everybody could really get the before and after of Flint no one would ever want to see a big industry implode. But I also agree with you that small businesses and self-employed people don’t get nearly enough help.

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