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National Public Radio had two interesting rural development stories Tuesday afternoon. The first was about the decline of the sock business in Fort Payne, in far northeast Alabama. Fort Payne once had more than 150 sock factories, but competition from from China, Pakistan and Honduras has driven two-thirds of those firms out of business. The reporter tells a fascinating story about how Fort Payne’s congressman forced President Bush to impose tariffs on imported socks, which may save the sock businesses that remain. But the most interesting thing to the Yonder was how the abandoned sock factory buildings were being reused by new and more profitable businesses.
The second story was set in Roscoe, Texas, where a booming wind farm industry is filling restaurants and adding jobs. (It reminds us here Eric Chamberlain’s story about how a wind boom is helping northwest Missouri.) “Who would have thought it,” Roscoe wind booster Chris Etheredge (above) told NPR, “that we could sell something we don’t own. Nobody owns the wind.”