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Has Global Sourcing Returned to the Heartland?

Remember all those magazine subscription cards in the old days that went to Mt. Morris, Illinois and Clinton, Iowa

Before call centers started to sprout in India and the Philippines, many companies set up moderately massive centers in the US, usually in lightly populated places such as South Dakota and Maine.

This trend actually followed a long-term charactertistic of the publishing and direct-marketing industries, which often set up in The Heartland, due to moderate wage levels and zoned postage rates that encouraged a location from the middle of the country.

Remember all those magazine subscription cards in the old days that went to Mt. Morris, Illinois and Clinton, Iowa?

The American Heartland has been under duress for three decades now. The cold weather and a certain lack of flexibility in business thinking catalyzed a brain drain to the warmer climes of the South and the innovation of Silicon Valley and other places "Out West."

But now, with near-ubiquitous broadband Web access and mass proliferation of cellphones and other wireless devices, prosperity seems to be returning to some regions.

I don't believe for a moment that President Obama can do a thing to bring all those great industrial jobs back to Ohio and Michigan, as he alleged during his campaign. Hey, maybe he's just a politician trying to win votes, I don't know.

But something more special than that seems to be going on. A recent study about emerging rural prosperity, being touted by the rurally-located University of Illinois.

I'm looking into seeing how much of that is attributable to the global sourcing phenomenon. The news I read about this report emphasizes civic awareness, the role of small colleges, and something that had a disturbing whiff to me of race-based politics.

But I'll wait until I read the entire report, and the reports behind that report.

I do think global sourcing is about to make an impact in The Heartland. To me, the key sentence I took from an overview of the report is, "geographical factors like climate, topography, distances to cities and airports, and interstate highways are unimportant in distinguishing prosperous counties from others."

There was a time when it didn't matter that it's cold in the Midwest six months of the year. Then there was a time when it did matter. Now, it appears that it doesn't matter again.

In my opinion, global sourcing is not just about India and China anymore. It's about Southeast Asia, too...and it may be about the USA as well!

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.