Jobs get even scarcer in rural Michigan

Rural communities have suffered in recent decades from plant closings. The White Pine copper mine, which once employed more than 3,000 workers in Ontonagon County, closed in 1995. (Copper sheet from the White Pine mine; photo by James St. John via Flickr, used via Creative Commons license)

North of Grand Rapids, residents of Montcalm County know better than most what tough times in rural Michigan can mean.

In 2006 – despite a massive push by state and local officials to prevent it – Electrolux closed its manufacturing plant in the small city of Greenville, costing 2,700 jobs. The firm shifted much of its production to Mexico, where workers would be paid about $1.57 an hour.

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Hopes lifted with the announcement that same year of plans to build six solar panel…

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