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American Futures

American Futures: Manufacturing Returns to Columbus, Mississippi

Feb 08, 2016 | 6 videos
Video by The Atlantic

How does a small town that loses its main industry recover and move forward?

Columbus, Mississippi—with a population hovering around 23,000—has long been a manufacturing hub. But in the early ‘00s, many factories closed down and moved overseas in search of cheaper labor, leaving thousands of Columbus residents depressed and unemployed.

More recently, a new wave of factories has moved into town. In just five years, the region has received almost $12 billion in investments, and Columbus is reinventing itself as the new heart of American manufacturing. Such economic turnaround is “something just doesn’t typically happen in places this small and this rural in the South,” says Joe Max-Higgins, the CEO of a local economic development organization.

This documentary was produced for American Futures, an ongoing reporting project from Atlantic national correspondent James Fallows and contributing writer Deborah Fallows. The couple has spent three years exploring small town America by air, “taking seriously places that don’t usually get registered seriously.”

Author: Nicolas Pollock


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Portraits of change and resilience in American communities