Big promises cost small towns valuable time and energy

Soviet image, via Jorge Láscar, Flickr CC

My latest essay for the Minnesota Reformer just went live.

Remember in January when someone proposed building a space port in Hoyt Lakes?

You’d be excused for forgetting. News turns over quick these days. But it happened. And while it’s technically possible that a multi-billion dollar space port will be constructed on the Iron Range, it’s not something I’m counting on.

The matter might have receded into some cloud nebulae somewhere, but the Mesabi Tribune made another orbit for its monthly mining publication in February. They also shared a “technical position paper” from the company, Can-Am 5M, which I will allow to speak for itself.

The story stood out as a stark example of the way media and local economic development have a way of brewing political demand for impossible dreams. And though other economic development ideas are more feasible — including ones I’ve written about recently — they are still of the “wait and see” variety.

At some point, we have to stop waiting for miracles and use our heads to make things happen. And no, voting for one party or the other is not a solution in itself.

That’s the topic of my latest essay for the Minnesota Reformer, “From coal gasification to robot space mining, small towns fall prey to P.R. promises.”

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