Tuesday, September 16, 2014

An Iron Range Prospectus, or two

I bet if you try, you can remember when you were learning the fundamentals of writing a Compare and Contrast essay. Today, we're going to try something similar, but include a few shortcuts in the form of hyperlinks. The topic is "Which Kind of Future for Minnesota's Iron Range Is Most likely To Lead to Sustainable Employment?" Example number one is a recent story about the turmoil in the Cliffs Natural Resources Board.
“Cliffs has taken measures to reduce our cost structure, reduce our operational footprint and consolidate where it makes sense,” spokeswoman Patricia Persico said in a statement.
Example number two describes the setbacks in financing a taconite processing plant that may create 350 jobs at some future time. It's unclear when and if the final(?) part of the financing package will be put together.
Struggling Essar Steel Minnesota has failed to secure the equity financing needed to save a critical bond deal to complete construction of a $1.8 billion taconite plant in Nashwauk, Minn.

Now, local officials worry that the project and 350 future jobs are up in the air.

northern Minnesota trail marker
Photo by J. Harrington
Example number three comes from South Dakota via an Iron Ranger. Somehow Aaron Brown was allowed to take a vacation away from The Range. He has a fascinating report on the economic development progress being experienced in Mitchell, SD, home of the Corn Palace. At first I thought my computer had led me astray and I was reading The Onion. Here's why: about Mitchell, Mr. Brown writes that:
this city has quietly reinvented itself as an economic center for technology, marketing and manufacturing. The nation’s leading supplier of rural telecommunication services developed itself right here, and billboards for miles around tout new high-paying jobs in Mitchell.

... investments in existing companies and tech infrastructure allowed hometown entrepreneurs to build an international communication software company in Mitchell. That brought more than 500 high-paid software developers and communication professionals to town.
So, we can compare 350 jobs on hold due to problems financing a taconite plant, plus turmoil on the board of a long established Iron Range stakeholder that is now focused on cost cutting, plus a promise of maybe 360 "high-paying" jobs, offset by hundreds of years of environmental risk --  if Minnesota permits copper-nickel mining to proceed with the PolyMet project -- and contrast that  with 500 high-paying jobs that weren't there a decade ago in MItchell, SD, that don't threaten the local environment and that depend, to some extent, on the quality of life in Mitchell, SD, which has corn but, to my knowledge, no mines.

If you were to look at the Iron Range as if it were a startup company and you were an angel investor considering your options, which strategy would you support, mining or high tech? Here's that Blandin on Broadband info, in case it helps. Remember, we need to choose what we want. We can't have it all, no matter how American we are.

The True-Blue American

By Delmore Schwartz 

Jeremiah Dickson was a true-blue American,
For he was a little boy who understood America, for he felt that he must
Think about everything; because that’s all there is to think about,   
Knowing immediately the intimacy of truth and comedy,   
Knowing intuitively how a sense of humor was a necessity   
For one and for all who live in America. Thus, natively, and   
Naturally when on an April Sunday in an ice cream parlor Jeremiah   
Was requested to choose between a chocolate sundae and a banana split
He answered unhesitatingly, having no need to think of it
Being a true-blue American, determined to continue as he began:   
Rejecting the either-or of Kierkegaard, and many another European;   
Refusing to accept alternatives, refusing to believe the choice of between;
Rejecting selection; denying dilemma; electing absolute affirmation: knowing
         in his breast
                  The infinite and the gold
                  Of the endless frontier, the deathless West.

“Both: I will have them both!” declared this true-blue American   
In Cambridge, Massachusetts, on an April Sunday, instructed
         By the great department stores, by the Five-and-Ten,
Taught by Christmas, by the circus, by the vulgarity and grandeur of
         Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon,
Tutored by the grandeur, vulgarity, and infinite appetite gratified and   
         Shining in the darkness, of the light
On Saturdays at the double bills of the moon pictures,
The consummation of the advertisements of the imagination of the light
Which is as it was—the infinite belief in infinite hope—of Columbus,   
         Barnum, Edison, and Jeremiah Dickson.

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