The World takes on Ironton in radio broadcast

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 30, 2004

Ohio has received national attention during the presidential campaign but now "The World" has put the spotlight on Ironton. Well, not exactly the whole world.

President George W. Bush visited the city earlier this month and now The World national radio show featured Ironton in an 8-minute news story focusing on job outsourcing and what it has meant in southern Ohio.

A co-production of the BBC World Service, Public Radio International and WGBH Boston, the one-hour daily show that reaches 2 million listeners on 183 stations across the United States aired Tuesday.

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Reporter Matthew Bell spent the day in Portsmouth, Ironton and Nelsonville looking at the effect outsourcing of American jobs has had in the region, who people blame and who they think can stop it.

"Ohio's economy has been through a rough four years and here is the most telling statistic. The state has lost nearly a quarter of a million jobs," Bell said in the report. "Parts of the state have unemployment rates of above 8 percent that compares to the national average of 5.4 percent."

Ironton resident Ron Wade was a featured part of the story. Wade worked for Allied Signal/Honeywell for more than 20 years. In 1999, a Canadian company bought the company and moved the production across the border. Wade had the unsavory task of helping them pick the equipment that they wanted to take.

"It was disheartening to have folks from out of the country go through and be actually going to use some of the equipment that you had actually used," Wade said in the report. "When you work at an operation or facility for 20 plus years you kind of like to feel you have taken ownership in that job."

Bell also spoke with Mike Brooks, president and CEO of the Rocky Shoe & Boot Co. in Nelsonville. In 2001, the company laid off its last 65 people and now manufactures solely overseas.

Despite the sluggish economy, Bell said he was encouraged after speaking with several people in Appalachia.

"It seemed like people were concerned about it. Also, I found that most people were optimistic. They were not throwing a pity party for themselves," Bell said. "All the people were optimistic and upbeat about finding new jobs."

Dr. Jim Crawford, director of OUS' Center for Innovation and Leadership, talked with the reporter but his segment did not make the final cut. Still, Crawford thought the story was balanced and fairly illustrated an ongoing issue that has only recently become a hot election-year issue.

"The issue is important. It may not matter in the sense that we have had thousands of jobs outsourced but it matters to the individuals who did lose their jobs to outsourcing," he said. "Those are hard jobs to replace.

"The playing field is not level in protecting against outsourcing right now. American companies cannot compete with companies located elsewhere that pay their employees fractions of what they should be paid."

To hear the full segment, go online to and click on Sept. 28, then find outsourcing.