CLINTON -- Richard Longworth isn’t a stranger to Clinton, let alone Midwestern economies. Some, like Clinton Regional Development Corp. director Mike Kirkchoff would say he wrote the book on how these communities fit into the new economic age.
En route to a scheduled speech in Galena, Ill., this week, Longworth -- author of “Caught in the Middle: America’s Heartland in the Age of Globalism” -- entertained local movers and shakers at the Candelight Inn. And in between offering them advice and prompting topical discussions, Longworth said the Clinton region is on a great trajectory.
With pieces in place like the Lincolnway Railpark and the Mississippi River, there are several drivers that encourage development.
“It’s really important to have an idea of where you fit into this global economy. That seems obvious, you’d be amazed at how many cities don’t realize that,” Longworth said. “The rail thing is terrific because it ties Clinton physically and intellectually into the rest of the world.”
Before assuming his current role on the Chicago Council of Global Affairs, Longworth spent 20 years reporting on economics for the Chicago Tribune. He has taught international relations at Northwestern University and was twice named a Pulitzer Prize finalist. A native of Boone, Longworth said he’d only passed Clinton by car prior to Wednesday.
His new book discusses the past makeup of Midwest communities and the different environment they’ve encountered in the 21st Century. Longworth believes there are two types of Midwest communities -- those open to change and those destined to struggle.
As for Clinton, Longworth said the community is on the rise.
“There’s just a lot happening here,” he said. “More than what’s happening in other towns.
“For a long time, Clinton, Cedar Rapids, all these towns were part of this Midwestern or at the most national economy. You made things here, you put them on the train here, you shipped them off to some American customers. There was no foreign competition.