Two years ago, our oldest son graduated with a Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering. He flew to Portland, Oregon for a job interview. Without hesitation he packed a truck, hitched his car to the back and, just like that, he moved 2,400 miles from home. Why would he move that far from home? What was the appeal?
A couple of months ago, Ben took advantage of a "buyers market" and purchased his first home. We listened as he discussed counter offers, taxes, mortgage note and home inspection. He was grown. When did that happen?
Last month, Jeff and I traveled to Portland for a visit. It is a LONG way from Mississippi. We arrived as the rainy season had begun, but it did not slow us or the locals down. We went to an apple tasting festival, drove to the top of Mt. Hood and sampled as much of the local culture as possible. This bike-friendly, walkable city with its close proximity to nature suited Ben to a tee. My trip back to Mississippi was not as long after seeing how happy our son is in his new home.
After the 2008 recession, Portland fell hard but bounced back fast. While the city's unemployment peaked near 11% in 2009, it spent most of 2011 with an unemployment rate well below the national average.
REI, Patagonia and Filson are a few of the national companies that have set up shop in downtown Portland. The city is rolling with the national trend of "eating local" and artisan-crafted merchandise. I brought back office "happies" froma Made in Oregon store.
Mississippi is emerging from the Great Recession just like the rest of the country. Residential building permits and housing starts are up sharply, and retail sales continue to increase. Young people moving to Jackson are fueling demand for more walkable commercial areas. We have a growing emphasis on buying and eating local.
Mark Williams with MDEQ states that Mississippi recognizes the importance of investing in and growing the recycling industry. It's a win-win for the environment and local jobs.
Next Friday night, Jeff and I will ride bikes with Jackson Bike Advocates. A good place to be.
--Jackie Wright, New Perspectives, Inc. Newsletter Volume 86, November December 2012