Small Town, USA

Day 8–July 11, 2009 (rest in McConnellsburg, PA, 0.0 miles)

JLG Industries is one of the largest employers in McConnellsburg. The company recently gained a government contract to build armored vehicles, which will mean more jobs in a region that sorely needs them. But while it may bring jobs, it will do nothing towards creating a vibrant downtown. It will not give residents a sense of pride in their town or help create a self-sustaining local economy.

While millions of dollars are thrown at large corporations, to in turn produce large numbers of jobs, more attention should be paid to the small businesses–it is small businesses that can make or break a small town. I remember my hometown springing to life when a Stewart’s shop moved in when I was in elementary school. And I remember the difference it made when a local family reopened the town’s sole grocery store.

Similarly, the little struggling businesses that line the main street in McConnellsburg are what makes all the difference in quality of life. According to the Small Business Administration, roughly half of the nation’s private sector jobs come from small businesses. And thriving small business means an increased tax base, better schools and better local services–and of course jobs that are close to where people live.

– By Jennifer E. Cooper