Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Great Auto-burgh history from the Daily Reckoning: http://dailyreckoning.com/the-rise-and-fall-of-the-american-middle-class/

Which leads to an intreresting question... how many auto plants have there been in the region over the last century?  Or just a curious side note:  how many American regions have been selected to be the home of not just one, but two new auto plants in the US since WWII?  Note I didn't ask how many were actually built.  For us you have to include not only Volkswagen, but also the underappreciated history that Chrysler almost opened a factory on the same site in Westmoreland County decades earlier. It really is an important note that we were not doing badly at site selection over the decades before the collapse of steel employment in the early 1980's.  The attraction of Volkswagen which opened its factory here in 1978 (just before the season leading to Superbowl XIII mind you) and would add several thousand jobs to the region was not only one of the fiercest competitions in history for new investment to date with many states working hard to win the new factory; it would also be the first major investment of a foreign auto plant in the US, long before Honda, Mercedes and others would follow along and build plants elsewhere in the US. It was truly a historic 'win' for the region.. or so it seemed until the plant closed roughly a decade later.  The seeds of our miasa came from what we were continuing to focus our economic development efforts on, not that we were unsuccessful at those efforts. My two cents of course, but if even half true ponder what it means about the common wisdom version of our economic history...

Go back to the link and look at the building in question.  Still there.  I don't know the status, but I thought at one point it was going to be part of the Hillman Cancer Center expansion?  I'll have to check on that, but that would be a symbolic conversion.


Blogger joe said...

This billboard announces the building of an Autocar Company plant in 1920 - the photo says "Guffey property at the corner of Baum Blvd and Centre Avenue." Where was that?

Check out the history of the Autocar Company -- originally called the Pittsburgh Motor Vehicle Company (1897) before moving to Philadelphia (Ardmore) in 1899.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010 8:06:00 AM  

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