October 19, 2003
The Economic and Demographic Profile of Martinsville and Henry County has painted a bleak picture of the area. We should remember that it is just the first step in a process designed to lead to a better future.
Anyone who has kept up with the news had seen much of the information before -- a steady stream of job losses, low wages, people leaving the area to find work or becoming so discouraged that they drop out of the labor force, and only slight gains in the level of education being sought by area residents, among other things.
By any measure, it was a depressing, albeit necessary, profile. Without that frank, sometimes brutally honest look at where we are it would be impossible to determine how we can improve.
That is the purpose of this assessment being done by Market Street Services of Atlanta, Ga., and funded by The Harvest Foundation. With the basic profile of the community done, the consultants will begin community interviews, comparisons with similar localities and other strategies to come up with a process for improving the area and a formula for implementing it. That could include types of jobs that would be a good fit for the area.
This is not going to be easy. Devising a plan that most people in this community will support will be a major hurdle, as will making sure that criticism is constructive rather than destructive.
But if the profile released last week accomplished nothing else, it should have convinced area residents that this undertaking is essential. We must recognize the continuing decline of our industrial base and take steps to change if this community is going to prosper. We believe it is worth the effort.
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