In South Chicago, A Neighborhood Faces Change

As Changing Gears gets underway, we’re featuring stories from our partner stations about the issues facing the Manufacturing Belt.

South Chicago, once a vibrant industrial neighborhood, has been hit hard by the decline of the steel industry. Thousands of jobs have disappeared at U.S. Steel, the biggest industrial presence in the area. Now, the city council has taken another step toward formalizing plans for a new development that could mean condos, new stores and the potential for jobs on land that is co-owned by the steel maker.

It’s just the kind of project that would show the area is Changing Gears and moving toward a new future. But not all residents are happy about the prospect. Michael Puente, a reporter with Changing Gears partner WBEZ, looked at the situation last month.

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Tell us a story…

Changing Gears is about the people of the Manufacturing Belt, and how they are moving forward. Some are doing so as entrepreneurs; others are banding together in their communities to break new ground. We want to tell their stories, and to do so, we want your help.

Tell us where to look. Tell us who to talk to. Tell us what to focus on. Post your ideas in the comments section, or send us an email to changing gears (at) umich.edu.

From The Senior Editor: Welcome to Changing Gears

The past few years have been devastating for the industrial states. As a journalist for the New York Times, I wrote numerous stories about plant closings, job losses, beleaguered communities, and residents’ bewilderment that the nation did not see value in what generations had created.

Many people have written off the manufacturing belt as a remnant of the past. But I grew up in Michigan, and I refuse to believe that region is finished. That is why I decided to join the Changing Gears project.

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