Riding the rails

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One of the reasons I don’t mind getting stuck at railroad crossings is it helps remind me that the economy isn’t completely stuck. And sometimes you see interesting cargo, like today in South St. Paul.

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There were dozens of them. They’re windmills from Suzlon, a company based in India with no manufacturing facilities in the U.S. So by the end of the train, I realized it’s the economy in India that’s not entirely stuck, and I found myself wondering what the unemployment rate in this country would be if we still manufactured things here. For all the talk about “green jobs” from alternative energy in this country, a lot of them aren’t jobs based here, apparently.

  • Oh, the irony of people putting up a windmill to get “green” energy and it turns out it gained a nice fat carbon footprint being shipped overseas.

  • Kat

    Suzlon has a manufacturing plant in Pipestone that creates the blades for wind turbines. There’s a Strib article from last year here on the demand for workers for the factory.

    As far as I know, the gearboxes and some of the other components for the turbines do come from Suzlon’s other factories overseas.

  • Scott

    I have a co-worker who used to be employed at the Suzlon plant in Pipestone. Apparently a significant number (his words were “a great majority”) of the workers appear to be undocumented immigrants. This observation was based on the minority of workers able to speak English (only himself and his supervisor on the 12-man crew he worked with for instance) and the fact that the majority of the workers left work on the day that an immigration official visited. This plant is Suzlon’s only blade manufacturing plant in the US.

    If much of the money earned by immigrant workers is being sent home to their families, it would appear that even this domestic manufacturing plant is having a reduced impact the local economy. The benefit to Pipestone is further reduced when you consider that many of the workers are bussed in from out of town (see Star Trib article referenced in Kat’s post above).