How One Missouri Town Has Weathered Recession
MICHELE NORRIS, Host:
From Washington now to the Midwest, where President Obama continued a three- state tour promoting both is financial regulatory overhaul, as well as changes to the nation's energy policy. Among his stops, Poet Bio-refining(ph), a company that produces fuel from corn.
MELISSA BLOCK, Host:
When the president visited the ethanol plant in Macon, Missouri today, he was joined by the mayor of Macon, Dale Bagley. He is a Democrat and he joins us from city hall to talk a bit about the economic outlook there. Welcome to the program.
DALE BAGLEY: Very glad to be here.
BLOCK: And Mayor Bagley, how many people are there in Macon?
BAGLEY: There's about 5,600 people.
BLOCK: Okay. And you're in the northeastern part of the state. What's the county unemployment like these days?
BAGLEY: Actually, it varies. It's around seven to eight percent. We're below the national average, I think.
BLOCK: So in the last year and a half or so, have you been seeing layoffs? Have people been losing their jobs?
BAGLEY: We're looking at several million dollar improvement in our ConAgra plant that's going to add more lines to their facility here. So I think - and actually the way the economy is going in Macon, it's doing pretty good.
BLOCK: Have you been hearing much worry, fear about where the country is headed?
BAGLEY: Oh, yes. Let me point out, Macon is not immune from folks that are not happy with the way things are going. There's a lot of folks in the area that are concerned about, like, for example, the health care bill and some of the other things like that. And they have a right to be concerned about that. These are issues that need to be dealt with, and I wish that they could be dealt with cooperatively and people could share ideas and then come to a consensus to solve these problems.
BLOCK: And she says she can tell that things are looking up a little bit based on what she sees right there in her bakery and coffee shop. I wonder what you look to as sort of local economic indicators, just really small scale things that you look to and say, oh, things are going downhill or things are turning around a little bit.
BAGLEY: See, because I'm the mayor, I have an insight that you don't really have as a general citizen 'cause I look at our sales tax numbers, the amount of sales tax we collect, and we're right at or just a little bit below what we normally collect in sales tax in the past. But not - we're - our sales tax has been pretty solid for the whole time. So, Macon has been, like I said, very blessed.
BLOCK: Well, Mayor Bagley, if I hear you right, you're saying - you seem to be saying that the recession has largely passed Macon, Missouri by. Is that right?
BAGLEY: So, Macon has a lot of retired people in it, so therefore we had a lot of folks that were looking at their retirement benefits, seeing them disappear very quickly.
BLOCK: Well, Mayor Bagley, good to talk to you, thanks very much.
BAGLEY: Okay, thank you, Melissa.
BLOCK: That's Dale Bagley. He's the mayor of Macon, Missouri.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.