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The New Company Town: Changing market forces might bring back “the company town,” but they’ll look nothing like prior iterations.

In recent years, American manufacturing has seen a notable resurgence driven by factors like automation, sustainability, and reshoring efforts, bolstering the “Made in America” movement. This resurgence has spurred large-scale investments in manufacturing, often facilitated by government subsidies, creating job opportunities, and fostering self-sustaining manufacturing mega sites, and with them nearby “corporate towns” to support the operations and their workers.

However, corporate towns in the United States have a complex history marred by failures and controversies, highlighting the dangers of excessive corporate control over employees’ lives. Examples like Pullman, Illinois, underscore the risks of corporate paternalism and the need to balance company interests with community well-being. There’s an opportunity to learn from past mistakes and develop better solutions for corporate towns, considering factors like community autonomy, infrastructure development, and diversification of economic opportunities.

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