Midwest Economic Adjustment Initiative

Midwestern states, especially Ohio and Michigan, face continued and significant job losses due to the ongoing restructuring of automotive and other manufacturing firms. Addressing economic dislocation and plant closings is a significant challenge for impacted workers, their communities, and state and local agencies.

NELP is promoting best practices for responding to major layoffs, particularly strategies funded through the "rapid response" program of the federal Workforce Investment Act.  We support the use of state rapid response teams, labor or community/management committees, and peer networks to assist impacted workers.  These practices are critical in connecting impacted workers to employment and related services.  NELP provides resources that describe the nuts and bolts of developing effective rapid response policies to assist workers and communities, including this detailed overview of best practices in rapid response.

But manufacturing decline is not inevitable. States can use their rapid response dollars and other state resources to assist distressed firms and avoid layoffs altogether, through layoff aversion  strategies like employee ownership or market conversion.  More broadly, NELP advocates for renewal of the manufacturing sector as a key part of an innovative economy that provides shared prosperity and addresses major challenges such as alternative energy and climate change. 

To promote best practices on adjustment policies and spur a more coordinated approach to the challenges facing the Midwest, NELP has hosted two major gatherings of regional experts:

  • NELP's 2008 Great Lakes Economic Revitalization Summit:  Progressive leaders in the manufacturing heartland stretching from Western New York to Eastern Iowa face common challenges in achieving economic revitalization and manufacturing renewal.  This webpage gathers resources for building an economy that works for low-income and middle class families in this region and across the U.S.

  • NELP's 2006 Michigan Economic Dislocation Summit:  This summit brought together best practices for serving dislocated workers from a range of states including North Carolina, Minnesota, Illinois and Pennsylvania, in an effort to promote innovative policies throughout the region.

For more information on our work in this area, please contact Lynn Minick, lminick@nelp.org.

Other key resources:

Working for America Institute provides many resources on worker training, high road economic development, advanced manufacturing, and sector strategies.

The Steel Valley Authority in Pittsburgh has been a national leader in developing layoff aversion and early warning networks.

The North Carolina Rural Development Center includes many resources, including research papers, interesting links, and materials about North Carolina's response to globalization.

The Center on Wisconsin Strategy provides policy models on many issues related to manufacturing and economic revitalization in the Midwest.