Economic Crisis Facing Wilmington, OH Essay

Economic Crisis Facing Wilmington, OH Essay

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While it is rare that we speak of economic events as disasters, I often find myself talking about my hometown of Wilmington, OH as if it has been hit by a hurricane. In May of 2008, DHL Express announced that it would be closing its U.S. air freight hub in Wilmington, and since then, this small Ohio community has been facing an economic crisis of unprecedented proportions.

Last year, when applying for this same grant, we only had estimates of the challenges that would arise from this crisis. Today, we are feeling it in full force. In just the past two months, the unemployment rate in Clinton County has nearly doubled from 10% to over 19%. Unemployment and severance benefits have run out for many, at the same time that state and federal cutbacks of social service programs have made it more difficult for families to find support burdening these difficult times. Many who still have the opportunity to work are only able to receive part-time hours, or are taking furlough days to keep their jobs. The realities of our economic situation are deeply troubling, and the need for assistance could not be greater.

Just as this crisis was unforeseen, so was my involvement. A little over 18 months ago, I returned Wilmington after being away from home for five years living, going to school, and working in Philadelphia. Initially, I was drawn home partly for sentimental reasons. At the time I was preparing to embark on a 27 month service in Ecuador with the Peace Corps to build upon my passion and interest for economic development, and it was obvious that with the departure of DHL the Wilmington that the community I would eventually return to would be nothing like the town in which I grew up. I had come home to say goodbye to my family and ...


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The severe layoffs in Wilmington forced us to confront the significance of losing our hometown. By coming home to work, we have had the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to repairing the place that anchors us to the world. The things that make Wilmington an important place to us are the same things that make our work powerful, such as its historical narrative, the communal social ties we share with the people with whom we work, and inspiration provided by our friends and families. Working as members of our own community gives our work a unique purpose that only arises when the people engaged in the work are fully anchored to the place in which they work. We hope that our work will help shift perspective back to the value of places, and provide others with a living model for the impact that can be made by investing in the places that make us who we are.

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