Now take into account that over the coming seven decades households got richer. This is because we got better at food production, mining, manufacturing and moving all that stuff around. This brought about two major changes. First, instead of 65 out of every 100 workers mining, growing, making and moving goods, now fewer than 14 could meet demand. Second, as households got richer, they bought fewer things that could be exported from the region and spent more money on things that could not be readily moved around. So, health care, financial services, restaurant visits, amusements and recreation, telecom services and housing became a growing share of our spending patterns. Manufactured goods and food spending shrank as our share of income. So what does this mean to the geography of wealth and affluence?
Well, in 1940 the only vibrant cities had big factories, rail yards and lots of associated workers. In 2010 the only vibrant cities had lots of people in many occupations whose product is mostly consumed locally. This doesn't mean there aren't a few fantastic towns with factories, but it is the vibrant town that ultimately makes the difference.
This begs the question, "If this is so, why is our community so dead-set on luring the next factory to town instead of making our town a good place to live?" The answer here is simply that too many folks simply don't know what else to do.
I believe we still need to attract business at the state, and maybe the regional level. A new factory anywhere in Indiana will draw workers from a dozen counties. Still, the simple truth is that for Hoosier counties, efforts to lure a new factory in hopes it will spur economic growth is like filling the bath tub during a house fire. It involves something that seems like it might be able to put out the fire, and it keeps you busy; but it won't make much of a difference in the long run.