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What Happened To My Hometown Of Jamestown And Why?

June 16, 2013

What in the world happened to my hometown, Jamestown, New York, from the vibrant city I remember growing up to its industrial, population and business decline of today? The City of Jamestown was......

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Jun-16-13 8:25 AM

What happened? You and a few thousand others of your generation abandoned the town for careers and greener pastures. What did you expect would happen? When I was growing up all I heard was "get out of here". A community grows and prospers when its residents stay and help build and maintain their community no matter what the obstacles. The attitude around here has always been go some where else and take advantage of what others have done in their communities. Fortunately, that attitude is changing. If you really care why don't you move back and help out?

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Jun-17-13 5:59 AM

Great letter John, You hit the nail on the head.

" Jamestown's location is not in major distribution lanes, which is a cost disadvantage. Secondly, the taxation climate in New York state is not conducive to manufacturing and business with its near-highest rates in the nation. It is also not a right-to-work state. Further, the winters here, while ideal for sports, are an impact on operating costs. These are formidable manufacturing obstacles to expand past any local markets." You forgot the brain drain. High Welfare benefits has made us a magnet for people of inability. The schools and opportunity are all still here. The people are not. The only thing we can change is taxation and easy access to welfare. There's not much to do about climate or location. Until then those with potential will leave. I hope our leaders will think about your suggestions.

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Jun-19-13 9:08 AM

John; Thank for taking the time to write this thoughtful article. My family moved to jamestown in 1968, just after I graduated from high school and moved from the region in 2005. I believe you are correct that much of the responsibility for the economic decline lies with local leaders over the past 70+ years. Local companies under-invested and the Manufacturers Assn. had a pact to keep wages low. They hurt themselves as recruiters had a field day recruiting the best and brightest to leave the area for much higher salaries. Jamestown had some fine furniture companies, but the market changed and they didn't. Leaders did come together to attract Cummins to the area, but that level of energy and competence has evaporated. I spent many years supporting the DJDC in an effort to improve my community but there was not the common vision and energy to make big things happen.

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Jun-22-13 8:16 AM

A lot said here but a great deal missed. What about the city leaders that were determined to embrace urban renewal and destroy the heart of the city, Brooklyn Square? The talk of bringing a mall to that area never came to be and this short-sightedness sent that mall and its taxes to Lakewood. That was the start of the business migration away from town. How many businesses lost their buildings in this move and were never heard from again? Secondly, the manufacturing base was lured away to the South by governors promising low taxes and cheap (non-union)labor costs. Jamestown had a thriving middle class industrial workforce that was decimated by the greed of these people. I had to laugh a few months ago listening to the Governor of South Carolina lamenting the fact that the furniture builders were abandoning her state for the cheap labor market in China. How perversely sweet. I too have moved away, never to return. Sad, so sad.

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Jun-27-13 5:27 PM

If you want to get some idea of why we left and why we won't move back, take a look at the current "discussion" on the SCOTUS decision on DOMA, cf., ***********post-journal****/page/polls.detail/id/1892/

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Jul-18-13 3:29 PM

As my moniker indicates, I'm also an expat. Would I have stayed if things had been better? Perhaps. I returned from the service in March of 1970 to 30+% unemployment. It was hard to look at the place as a viable end-point. I left two years later for good.

Now, I'm nearing retirement from my engineering career, which could not have happened in Jamestown. I'm sad about that. The backwards thinking that let the decay happen, and even reinforced it, is evident on many comment lines in these ePages. Jamestown is their town now. After 40 years, I guess I'm a Virginian now.

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