Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Shock Absorber of USA

I just finished a two day annual conference put on by the Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines that was held in Sioux Falls, SD. Sioux Falls has been ranked by Forbes Magazine as the best small city in the USA for the last four years running. There is a real vibrancy going on in Sioux Falls and other towns in SD.

I spent a lot of time with several very interesting citizens from Aberdeen, SD (population 24,658), which has the enviable problem of having numerous companies looking at locating in the community. However, the prospective companies are spooked by their unemployment rate below 3%. It’s a nice problem to have for a town.

Renowned economist, writer and actor Ben Stein was the keynote speaker last night. He talked about the wonderful drive from Minneapolis to Sioux Falls, a four hour drive, contrasting the beautiful scenery and wide open spaces to the cramped life in the city.

One of Stein’s comments really stuck with me, “The Midwest is the shock absorber for the rest of the country, acting just like the shocks on your car. All of the crazy ideas that come from the two coasts take a while to permeate into the heartland. It allows for some of the crazier ones to be diluted down. Contrast that to France or Italy, which are much smaller in size and as a result don’t have the luxury of contemplating as much what they are going to do.”

Shock absorber? I kind of liked the analogy.

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