Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Flint's Doppelganger

Photo by Richard Perry courtesy of The New York Times.

Anderson, Indiana looks suspiciously like Flint, doesn't it? And while both cities suffer from a G.M. hangover, Anderson seems to be in the process of recovering, albeit very slowly.

Mary M. Chapman of The New York Times reports:
"It is the home, for example, of two dozen former General Motors factories and thousands of retired auto workers who are still dependent on G.M. for health care and pensions. It once ranked right behind Flint, Mich., as the city with the largest concentration of G.M. operations, and it fell just as hard as the car company faltered.

"But on Monday, Anderson enjoyed some rare bragging rights. A global company, Nestlé, opened a new Coffee-Mate and Nesquik plant here and announced plans to expand to more than a million square feet. Its total investment, $529 million, is creating hundreds of new jobs."


  1. so what was the trade off for nestle's? what do they get for putting in their operation there? there's gotta be something somewhere that's giving up something. corporations like nestle's don't do things like this outta the goodness of their hearts. Who is giving up there water rights??

  2. Maybe they get to dump hot cocoa and marshmallows in the rivers and streams. :)

  3. Nestle was given a very good tax break I don't know exactly how much. Consider this; for 25+ years I have regularly driven by a corn field that is within sight of exit 22 on I-69. Usually my travels involved visiting one or another union factory in Anderson or Muncie. One by one those factories have closed. The similarities between the people and infrastructures of my home town of Flint and Anderson are many. Talk about depressing. Today there is a giant Nestle bunny standing next to I-69 in what used to be the corn field. He is leaning on a large digital sign, flashing the Nestle advertizement of the day. Behind him is a gleaming new factory with a lot packed full of cars. Construction people are outside working in the remaining corn field, getting ready to expand the factory for even more products. I believe I am correct saying, the people of Anderson are damn glad to have that ridiculous bunny by the side of the road. They couldn't care less what taxes Nestle is or isn't paying the city fathers.

  4. must have been fairly tired-look at my pissy spelling! I'm happy for Anderson, really. And they'd couldn't be happier, unless they were moved to Michigan. But, this doesn't excuse nestle's semi-legal behavior towards turning water into a private concern, and their bullying tactics towards small town lawmakers and citizens.

  5. For a little insight on Anderson check out the HBO documentary Dirty Driving: Thundercars of Indiana.

    I've traveled through Anderson, Marion, Fort Wayne, Crawfordsville, Danville, Waukegan, Kenosha, Kankakee, Janesville, Rockford and countless other down on their heels mid-sized Rustbelt factory towns. Flint has about a two decade head start on decay when compared to the above. We are in the elite class of desperation that includes the likes of Gary, East St. Louis, Camden, and Youngstown. Serious decline began in Flint about 30 years ago with massive layoffs and 25% unemployment. I can remember large swaths of bombed out neighborhoods around Oak Park/Buick City back in the early 80s, the likes of which are just now beginning to be experienced by the rest of the country. Welcome to the jungle.

  6. If there were some unsavory deals between Nestle and the Anderson city fathers I would like to know the details, re: above post which refers to semi-legal activity. From the average guys perspective, Anderson courted Nestle and as a result, won their business. On the surface, it looks like a happy relationship. I do acknowledge that, as elsewhere in the rust belt, there are numerous local folks who refuse to work for non-automotive wages. That is their choice to make.


Thanks for commenting. I moderate comments, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at