I recently watched the movie “Roger & Me“, a documentary by Michael Moore about a town called Flint Michigan that was desolated when a the largest auto plant (and main industry) in town moved their manufacturing to cheaper labor in China. Some would blame General Motors then-CEO, Roger B. Smith (the namesake of the movie) for this malicious act. But, although I acknowledge his misdoings in the matter, I don’t know if it was all his fault. We’ve all heard the stories of small towns being eaten alive when Wal-Mart moves into town. But it’s not always an army of big-box stores that beats up small-town economies. Most the time, it’s a series of little choices that you make, and I make, and our aunt’s cousin’s boyfriend makes. Just like in Flint, Michigan, communities can grow exponentially or wither into oblivion simply based on our buying trends.
This is a scary thought, isn’t it? You start a life somewhere: lay down some roots, enroll your kids in a school system you trust, maybe buy a house, pay your taxes… Then, next thing you know, your neighbors are moving, the community center is going under due to low tax revenues, and your favorite coffee shop just closed down.