Even as the automakers lobby Congress for a $25 billion line of credit, there are other people, places and things worthy of a bailout that deserve to be heard. Today we’ll head south down Interstate 95, head west on NC Route 421, and travel to Erwin, North Carolina. Erwin deserves a bailout.
Shortly after the North American Free Trade Agreement passed, the Swift Denim Plant closed. Textile manufacturing is always a race to the bottom in terms of labor inputs, and the Ervin plant could no longer compete on a global scale against competition from developing nations. So the plant closed, and the town of 5000 hundreds of jobs, millions in tax revenues, and had to scale back services provided. The closure of Good Hope Hospital shortly afterwards added insult to injury. Many of the local businesses folded after the plant closure as well, since there were no longer a shift change to fill the diner or pizza place, or enough people to justify a retail store with a Walmart a few miles in each cardinal direction. The poverty rate in and around Erwin is estimated to be a staggering 21 per cent
Erwin could be thriving again with a paltry bailout of $100-200 million, and might even resemble the vibrant Research Triangle Park 30 miles to the North with even a modest portion of the bailout. Bailout funds could be used to entice industry to the empty Swift Plant, develop a landing, riverwalk and ecotourism at the nearby Cape Fear River, and a large interactive museum to draw tourists to Averasboro Civil War battlefield located just outside of town.
Erwin has too big a heart and too much character to fail. So call Senator Burr or Senator-Elect Hagan today. Let them know if the pathetic automakers deserve a slice of the magic bailout pie, so do the 5000 taxpayers who call Erwin, North Carolina home.