During the nine years that Matt Gilroy has been the executive director of the Fulton County Economic Development Corporation, the county has experienced $1.5 billion worth of investment.
However, Gilroy’s November 17 presentation to the Archbold Rotary Club didn’t look back at those successes or project what may occur next year. Rather, he presented three commonly held economic beliefs that are actually myths when all the facts are considered. Gilroy noted that the facts also offer windows of opportunity.
Myth 1: Agriculture is a dying industry.
Granted, the number of persons engaged in farming has declined over the last 60 years; however, the number of acres being used for farming is largely unchanged. Further, crop yields on those acres have dramatically increased over time.
What has changed is the role of technology in farming. Fewer farmers are able to do more.
Skill enhancement relating to that technology is an important part of farming now. And strategies to involve youth in this aspect of farming need to be developed. That’s the area of opportunity.
Myth 2: Technology will eliminate jobs.
Gilroy explained that there were 50 million workers in 1960 America. Today, there are 150 million workers.
What has changed is that there are far fewer jobs that require physical labor. There are six times the number of jobs today as there were in the 1930s.
Persons who have the appropriate skills, training and background are needed, he said. In fact, there is a shortage of workers to fill open jobs.
He noted that the labor participation rate has declined over the years from 67 percent to 62 percent today.
That means that in the past, 67 percent of working age people were either employed or looking for work while today it’s only 62 percent. It’s harder today for employers to find workers.
Myth 3: The Midwest is losing population.
For his presentation, Gilroy considered the populations of Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois. He acknowledged that rural areas in those states are losing population.
However, when the three largest metropolitan statistical areas (MSA) of each of those states are considered, then each state has areas of population as well as job growth. The two fastest growing SMAs in the four-state area are Columbus and Indianapolis.
So, when Fulton County seeks to entice businesses to move or expand into Fulton County or to retain Fulton County graduates, its main competition are those two SMAs.
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Source: The Village Reporter