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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Obama Destination Figuring out Need for Economic Diversification?

I notice the news coverage of President Obama's trip to Indiana today refers to economically beleaguered Elkhart County as the "RV Capital of the World." Perhaps the economic downturn has made that tagline fall out of favor in Elkhart: their county website shows no sign of that moniker. The county also appears to be focusing its image building on smaller, greener forms of transportation:

Well, those horsies still emit methane... but so do I after a good long bike ride....

I've said before that the decline in RV sales is really one of the silver linings of this recession. The ginormous McMansions-on-wheels clogging our campgrounds and highways are symbolic of the bloated consumption that helped get us into this economic mess in the first place. Build your local economy on products that rely on cheap energy, and you're asking for trouble.

An RV dealer in Elkhart sees sales starting to pick up again. I won't begrudge a town its economic recovery—those folks building and selling RVs are real people, with families and bills, just like the rest of us. But let's hope Elkhart—and much of the rest of the country—recognizes that it must diversify its economic strategy and pursue policies that don't make our economic stability contingent on unsustainable overconsumption.

Maybe the President can stop by a nice tent and backpack shop in Elkhart... or the bike shop over in Granger.

One small oops: President Obama is speaking at the Monaco-Navistar RV plant, but somehow his press people missed the opportunity to invite the owners of Electric Motors Corp., a new Elkhart County outfit looking to build electric and hybrid vehicles.

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