Re-Build Your Struggling Small Town
LOWER INCOME FAMILIES STRUGGLE THE MOST.
SPACE FOR LEASE
Cadillac, Michigan is home to around 10,000 people and is considered one of the largest industrial and commercial cities in northern Michigan. Now, with the struggling economy Cadillac is losing many of its once thriving businesses and its families. Leaving behind empty rundown buildings.
NEARLY NEW BUILDINGS SIT EMPTY SINCE THE BUSINESSES COULD NOT SURVIVE.
These are hard times for most every city, as our nation experiences an economic recession. Many cities struggle to maintain their roads and schools and also to keep tourism and locals interested in the city. There have been many local campaigns and statewide campaigns to regain interest in certain areas and states. Many families must move around to find work and as people leave an area so must the business. This turns into a vicious cycle until almost nothing is left to sustain a city or town. Most often bigger cities are not affected by this type of situation. It is the small towns such as Cadillac, Michigan that are most affected and torn apart by the results of these difficult economic times. CADILLAC FALLING It is a disheartening event to witness the decline of something that was once a thriving and living place. Watching one’s city fade into nothing more than a memory of a good place is hard. Unfortunately that has been the fate for many of the citizens of Cadillac, Michigan. There are many locals who have lived there for years and now experience the displeasure of watching it turn from a quiet, yet thriving destination city, into nothing more than a stop for gas in between here and there. Many of the businesses and activities that once drew people to the inviting city are either struggling to stay afloat or no longer in existence. Small town family owned stores are a thing of the past. HOW IT ALL STARTED First it would only be fair to tell about Cadillac in its better days. It was once a thriving logging town, processing mostly pine timbers and the birthplace of Shay Locomotives, invented by Ephriam Shay in 1878. The Shay locomotive was the first one of its kind to be able to carry logs around sharp corners, up steep hills and on uneven terrain. They were actually used all over the United States between 1880 and 1945. Currently Cadillac has a Shay Locomotive on display in their city park in honor of Ephriam Shay and the technology and industry he brought to Cadillac. After World War II Caberfae Ski Resort began to grow rapidly, increasing the numbers of tourists that ventured to Cadillac. There were many new businesses coming to the town and many families began to call Cadillac their home. Eventually such businesses as Avon Automotive, Four Winns and Clark Foods were operating in Cadillac and things were going well. Perhaps everyone in the quiet little, prospering town of Cadillac got too comfortable because eventually things started to decline.
THE ECONOMY PLUMMETS Around 2007 when the United States Economy began to fall so did Cadillac’s. There probably was not one state in the whole country that was not affected by the hard times, and many still are. However it is the small towns like Cadillac who suffer the most when times are bad. In these small towns is does not take very many businesses closing or families moving away to make quite a large dent in the once stable economy. Plus once things start declining it is very hard to keep up the image of the town or eventually bring things back up. EMPTY SPACES There are countless numbers of buildings sitting wwaround the city and the outskirts of Cadillac that it really is quite sad. Large facilities like Clark foods now sit completely empty. Clark foods had a huge shipping and receiving dock, and employed many people. They were the leading food services and commercial food supplier in the surrounding area for many years. Other places such as Bill Oliver’s restaurant and resort were huge tourist attractions and very successful businesses. Now after being bought, sold renamed and downsized more than once, it sits on its corner property operating only about half of its services and space as before, and barely managing to fill the parking lot half full. Still other places have downsized or closed. Many of the automotive businesses that once operated at full capacity have had to cut jobs in both assembly line workers and management and some have even began working only four or even three day work weeks. Many employees have lost vacation time, and experienced a decrease in benefits and overtime. Since these are some of the biggest businesses in Cadillac when they suffer, everyone suffers. There are many small businesses that end up only lasting a year or two as well, as a result of the poor economy. Some places start out new and do well for a while. When prices must go up to compete with other local stores offering the same things, and when people have no money, and aren’t buying things, then these places close and leave a brand new building standing there empty. It becomes very apparent that times are tough when even brand new buildings are standing all over Cadillac with no businesses in them. Another problem that arises from the whole situation is the loss of families.
I LOST MY JOB Many families have had to leave Cadillac because they lost their job or their company is downsizing and moving them to a different facility. Everywhere one goes you can hear a story about someone’s son who had to move for his job, or someone’s mother who lost her job after 20 years and is now working two jobs just to make ends meet. There are places even in the nicer neighborhoods where every other house is for sale. The number of foreclosed homes and families who had to downsize because of foreclosure has sky rocketed. It creates a very vicious cycle when business close causing people to leave and the town to shrink with no hope of recovering any time soon. Then what do you get? A town filled with various empty houses, but even worse, empty businesses. These businesses sit for years and with the owners unable to pay for them or sell them, they quickly become run down and unsightly. KEEPING UP APPEARANCES As a result of the low economy buildings sit around Cadillac in shambles. Things start to fall apart, grass becomes overgrown and the area becomes very sad and lonely. This creates a town that is not very pleasant to drive through as a tourist or on a Sunday afternoon drive. If the town looks run down and empty it is easy to see that it will be hard to convince people to come back. It also creates a very depressing lifestyle for those who saw Cadillac in its better times. Many people have said Cadillac was once a growing city, now there is nothing left. They worry about how far their children will have to go to find jobs and whether or not they will be able to survive much longer themselves. NOT FAR FROM THE TREE It’s no surprise that small cities like Cadillac struggle when you look at the overall health and stability of Michigan itself. To put the struggles of Cadillac into better context consider this analysis by Kurt Metzger. “While Michiganians, or Michiganders as our new Governor prefers, knew that the first decade of the 21st Century had been hard on the state, the first 2010 Census results, released on December 21, truly “brought it home.” With a 2010 population count of 9,883,644, Michigan was the ONLY state to lose population over the decade, dropping 54,800 or 0.6 percent. The last time the state experienced such loss was in the first half of the 1980s, though population gains in the second half of the decade outstripped the losses. The past decade reversed this scenario as gains over the first five years were more than wiped out by five straight years of population loss. Population change is the result of: Natural Increase, the difference between births and deaths, and Net Migration, the combination of Immigration and Domestic Migration (movement within the 50 states). With the exception of immigration, Michigan’s numbers went the wrong way on all fronts. The number of births decreased by 11 percent between 2000 and 2008, while the number of deaths increased by 1.5 percent. The birth rate of 12.1 live births per 1,000 population was down by 12.3 percent over the decade and placed Michigan in the bottom 10 states. While this decrease has been driven, in part, by economic uncertainties that have caused couples to postpone parenthood, the more
important factor has been the loss of residents in their childbearing years, the younger singles and couples who have both the education and the flexibility to move. While the labor force has remained relatively steady, dropping by 5.8 percent, the number of employed decreased by 760,000, or 15.3 percent, while the number of unemployed increased by 460,000, or 242 percent! While all industries suffered, it was manufacturing, Michigan’s bread and butter, that took the largest hit. Manufacturing jobs in Michigan fell by almost half, 48 percent, dropping from just under 900,000 in 2000 to about 463,000 in 2009. While there has been some good news on the manufacturing front in recent months, the number in October 2010 is still about 470,000. The last thing to address in this brief decade overview is the economic well-being of Michigan and its households. While this analysis will focus on per capita personal income and median household income, let us not forget the foreclosure crisis that has kept Michigan in the Top 5 states since its inception in 2005. The Bureau of Economic Analysis measures per capita personal income (PCPI) for the nation, states, metropolitan areas and counties. While Michigan’s income well surpassed the national average during the 1970s, the recession of the early 1980s pushed it below average, where it stayed until a brief rebound in 1994 and 1995. By 2000, however, Michigan’s PCPI had fallen to just less than 97 percent of the national average. Losses in 2001 and 2003 were followed by a brief rally in 2003. However, the next four years brought a steady decrease to 86.8 percent in 2007, and a low of 86.6 percent in 2009. While income losses can be directly tied to the loss of jobs, particularly manufacturing, we must remember that Michigan’s income has remained artificially high due to those highly paid auto-related manufacturing jobs, jobs that did not require high levels of education. The restructuring of the nation’s economy has made the need for post-secondary education more critical than ever, and Michigan’s low level of college graduates has resulted in its rapid income drop. One last income number really drives home the story of Michigan’s decade decline. The median household income for Michigan dropped by 21.3 percent between 2000 and 2009, while the national average fell by one-third of that -7.1 percent. When translated to 2009 dollars, we find that every Michigan household, on average, lost over $12,000 in buying power. Such a loss ripples through the entire economy and decreases the need for all the retail, service and construction jobs that feed off of our disposable income. Well, here we are at the beginning of a new decade. We have a new Governor and the forecast for both the nation and Michigan is a slow, but steady, recovery. The message for Michigan, in addition to
YOU DON’T HAVE TO GO FAR TO FIND BUILDING FOR SALE OR LEASE.
Many People live day to day wondering if their job or their business will be next.
“transformation” and “innovation,” must be education, education, education! Unless we decide to focus our resources on the education of our residents, from birth to career, Michigan will continue to experience decreasing population, employment and income. The future is ours to decide.” With Michigan itself struggling to survive, it’s difficult for small cities like Cadillac to survive. Small cities rely on the people in the city to sustain businesses. When all the people begin to leave, so must the business, until slowly there is nothing left.
Cadillac is filled with empty buildings, rundown businesses and various spaces to lease.
In the future, when the economy recovers, Cadillac will have a decent chance of recovering as well. It is still a quiet city with a lot to offer. Hopefully the families that have held out this long will be able to stay in their hometown of Cadillac and the businesses that remain can manage to survive in these tough times. In the future Cadillac will be able to regain some of its former glory or at the very least shed its layer of empty, run-down buildings and homes.