That’s the question confronting Crystal City, Missouri – a small town outside St. Louis – according to today’s Wall Street Journal. Apparently, an old glass factory which was the centerpiece of the area’s economy closed in 1990. The community has morphed into a small commuter suburb with 4,200 residents. But now, plans have surfaced to build a new pig-iron smelter on the site providing between 120 and 700 jobs, igniting community debate. The issue, according to WSJ reporter Tim Aeppel, comes down to this.
On one side are those welcoming almost any decent-paying job, even relatively “dirty” ones, as employment that the community otherwise wouldn’t have. The other side is dominated by those who see certain kinds of development as worse than no jobs at all.
If you were the town’s mayor or economic development director what would you do?