Recommended Read: Nothin’ but Blue Skies

I just finished a good book that might fit on the summer reading lists for many economic developers.  Edward McClelland’s Nothin’ but Blue Skies:  The Heyday, Hard Times, and Hopes of America’s Industrial Heartland is a well-written account of the rise and decline of key “Rust Belt” cities like Buffalo, Detroit, Flint, and Syracuse.  It’s a somewhat sad and depressing read as it’s much heavier on the heyday and hard times, as opposed to future hopes, for these communities.  It’s full of good stories as well as representing a “mini-memoir’ of McClelland’s youth in Lansing, MI, and work stints in Decatur, IL, Lansing, and the industrial South Side of Chicago.  If (like me) you’re from the Rust Belt, a lot of this material will be familiar, but the stories are poignant.  It would be nice to have some more material on solutions for revitalizing these cities, but if solutions were easy, they would have already been in place.   This book can and should motivate all of us to do more to help these once-thriving communities.


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