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A parking lot can say plenty
October 15, 2009 - Steve Murch
If you want a visual definition of the economy locally take a ride down Johnson Street. As you travel, don't look for development (or development that is on hiatus). Instead, focus on parking lots — specifically the parking lots at Alpena Community College and Besser Company.
ACC parking lots are pushing capacity while Besser lots aren't.
The college offers a top-notch education and local residents have always taken advantage of that. ACC officials pride themselves on the opportunities afforded students. During tough economic times, laid-off workers return to school and many younger students stay closer to home, taking advantage of lower costs while still getting the education they need. Increased enrollment numbers at the college show how many people are getting their education at ACC.
Besser has suffered for a while. The size of layoffs at the company are almost urban legends by themselves because no one on either side – management or labor – will confirm how many people have been affected. Looking at the parking lots at the company will tell the tale, at least in terms of local workers, how the company is doing.
I have driven past at various times during weekdays, never later than 4 p.m., and on the side closest to ACC there have never been more than 13 vehicles. The rest of the lots probably push the total to around 50. There is no way to tell whether those are all employees or if there are customers or sales people calling on the company. It's still a sad sight regardless if all the cars belong to employees or not.
People want to tell tales of Besser's woes, but none has hard evidence just hearsay. All it takes is a look at the parking lots to know it isn't all cake and ice cream.
Parking lots can tell a lot, just look at ACC and Besser.
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