Out of the ashes of automotive manufacturing, Dayton, Ohio, is hoping to "re-skill" its workforce with continuing technical education.
Every company, municipality, and government agency in America would be lucky indeed to have an Adam Murka on its payroll. Adam has the memory of a savant, the work ethic of a dairy farmer, and the can-do attitude of a young man who has never experienced disappointment or despair.
Except that he has.
Adam, who is 28, lives and works in the town where he grew up: Dayton, Ohio. Last week he took me on a tour of the place, a city for which he harbors enormous hope. We saw the Oregon District, with its chic shops and coffee shops and excellent taverns. We drove past the sweeping campuses of several universities. And then we drove to Moraine to see the General Motors assembly plant.
The plant was made famous by the HBO documentary "The Last Truck." The film follows the months and weeks leading to the last day the GM plant operated, but Adam didn't have to watch that show on cable. He witnessed it first hand. His aunts, uncles and step-father all spent most of their working lives at the plant, as did most of the parents of Adam's childhood friends. Those adults who didn't work at GM were likely as not down the street at Delphi, making parts for GM. Both factories are closed and empty now, hulking behemoths the size of ghost towns. Adam told me that the people of Dayton rallied to keep out the vultures -- scrap dealers with plans to dismantle the buildings and their contents and sell it all off by the ton. The rally was successful so the carcasses remain, picked over and lifeless, a harsh reminder that high-paying union jobs are largely a thing of the past in Dayton.