Six Years Later, Has Elkhart Learned?

Then-Senator Barack Obama makes his first visit to Elkhart, IN while campaigning for  his presidential run in '08. From Flickr, CC license.

Then-Senator Barack Obama makes his first visit to Elkhart, IN while campaigning for his presidential run in ’08. From Flickr, CC license.

A few days ago, NPR lead into its coverage of the State of the Union Address by putting up a retrospective on President Obama’s visit six years ago to my high school in Elkhart, IN. It was January, 2009, and Obama chose Elkhart as the first destination of his term in office because the town served as the begrudging poster-boy of the Great Recession. When Obama visited, the unemployment rate in Elkhart was 19.1% and it would go as high as 20.2% a few months later. The title of “Recreational Vehicle Capital of the World” did not do the town much good in an economic climate in which RVs were completely undesirable.  Six years later, as NPR chronicles, the economy of Elkhart has rebounded substantially, but is it any less susceptible to economic shocks than it was in 2007? Continue reading