Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Rust Belt Irony

BAE Systems is moving operations from Irving, TX to Fort Wayne, IN. I'm serious:

BAE notes that the Fort Wayne facility "is a Shingo Prize-winning" plant and that the chnages don't reflect at all on the Irving workers' skills, work ethic or performance. It's just that hard times have forced BAE to shift its Boeing 777 and 737 work elsewhere, and the remaining 125-150 Irving employees are going to focus on other Boeing planes.

An isolated case does not a trend make. However, heading to the Rust Belt might make more economic sense when the entire country is hurting. The Sun Belt is bound to develop legacy costs of its own and its infrastructure will start showing the wear of age right around the time the Postindustrial Heartland is spruced up thanks to the economic stimulus.

Another harbinger of things to come is the shift of national political influence away from Texas. Government contractors are going to follow the money, much of which could end up in the Rust Belt. That may be one of the unstated reasons why BAE is moving operations to Indiana.

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