Under the Hat: The Right Thinking - Erie News Now | WICU & WSEE in Erie, PA

Under the Hat: The Right Thinking

You can almost feel the disappointment in the air this week with word that General Electric will make good on its notice of moving their Evolution Series line of locomotives from Erie to Texas.

That move will eliminate 950 jobs, some of the best paying work in manufacturing around here.

Along with the disappointment comes the frustration and helplessness of understanding that Erie is just a small cog in a giant global machine and there's not much you can do when you're on the wrong side of the bottom line.

Take time to mourn our collective loss but then it's time to roll up our sleeves.

Mercyhurst University is working on a retraining plan for the workers that will offer grants and scholarships. Critics can scoff and say the school is just looking to collect federal retraining dollars, but it's more than that.

As President Tom Gamble told me, "You just wonder what you can do to help. We're an institution of learning."

To me, that's the right thinking. What do I do well? How can what I do help?

Destination Erie is a project to look at the region's long term economic prospects. In other words, what will the economy look like in the 2030's? What can we do now to position ourselves to be ready to prosper in that environment?

This too strikes me as the right way to go. Of course, the devil will come in the execution.

Change is painful. Just ask the 950 families about to be directly affected by the GE announcement.

But while there are those who will lament that no company will ever show up looking to hire 10,000 people again, the other side of that is that no single company's downturn will ever again bring the economic body blow that GE currently swings.

Our future is in smaller companies with good technology representing diverse segments of the market.

Getting there won't be easy. But it's the right thinking to try.

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