Vacant storefronts along one of the main streets in Wilmington, Ohio.

Vacant storefronts along one of the main streets in Wilmington, Ohio. (Click photo to view a slideshow of images from Wilmington.) Photo: DisciplesWorld

The Jan/Feb issue of DisciplesWorld comes out this week. I wrote the Lean Times column for this issue, about the town of Wilmington, Ohio. DHL Express just pulled out of Wilmington, leaving about 8,000 people in the town and surrounding counties unemployed. The town only has about 12,000 people. About one in three households have a family member who worked for DHL or related businesses at it’s Airpark.

While I was in town working on the article, CBS’ 60 Minutes was also there. Their segment on Wilmington aired last Sunday, Jan. 25. You can watch it or read the transcript here.

While 60 Minutes did an excellent job (they don’t need me to tell them that!) and they more than drove home the point that this small town (and others like it) are facing really tough times, they left out any mention of what I think is the most interesting and hope-inspiring angle. Taylor Stuckert and Mark Rembert, two young guys who grew up there, returned after college and are organizing an effort to make Wilmington the nation’s first Green Enterprise Zone. They’ve formed an organization called ENERGIZE Clinton County. Read more about them in the Daily Kos blog entry, What 60 Minutes Didn’t Tell You About Wilmington, Ohio.

I’ve talked with Taylor and Mark, read their proposals, and I think they have great (and practical) ideas. People are getting behind them. You can help, even if you don’t live anywhere near Wilmington. As they point out in my DisciplesWorld piece, Wilmington could become sort of a test lab for green technology and business, and for ideas and programs. The town has a huge number of people who are willing to learn and ready to work.

If the Obama administration doesn’t recognize this opportunity [and you can help by writing to them and to the Ohio Senators like Sherrod Brown who can get things done] then shame on them. Hopefully they’ll invest in Wilmington (different from a handout or a bailout) and show us how it can be done.