Remember when the U.S. had an industrial base second to none? Remember when seemingly every city-large and small-had a variety of factories offering good jobs and putting revenue into the city's coffers? My own experience is Beaver Falls, Pa., where when I was growing up many years ago, there were so many factories that if a person didn't like what he/she was doing, he could "walk across the street" and try something else. There's not much there now. None of the plants that were there when I was a kid exist now, and many bemoan the fact that it's tough to find a job.

Why do I bring this up? Because it seems that there are too many instances where some don't appreciate how important industries are to the communities in which they exist and want to make it hard to survive. Two such examples are LTV Steel in Cleveland, Ohio and Praxair Distribution Inc. in St. Louis, Mo.

A couple of years ago, LTV was trying to hang on, looking for concessions and trying to cut costs in any way possible. During this period, there were a few incidents of some emissions exceeding the EPA limits for the area. Amid the hysterical outcry about the polluting company, one of the councilmen in the area decried the plant and its management and said it would be good if the plant would be shut down completely. The wish came true shortly after with the loss of all jobs.

An explosion at the Praxair Distribution Inc. plant in St. Louis, Mo., on 24 June 2005 shut down the facility. The plant was located close to a residential section of the city. Months after the cleanup and investigation of the cause of the explosion, the company planned to reopen the plant on the same site with plans to move to an alternate site later. However, it was reported that the mayor took steps to prevent reopening, saying there was insufficient information to demonstrate the safety of the facility and that the facility is a nuisance to the neighborhood residents. Some neighbors complained about noise from the plant at night. One said the plant shouldn't stay because it (unsafe practices) has happened one too many times, although another said that the plant was there for a long time with no problems, and that the city needed the jobs and the tax base.

When did our industry become a "nuisance"? Will we be better off when there are no longer any "smokestack" industries left in the country? Industry to be sure must be a responsible player in any community, but the community leaders and citizens must also support those industries. Happy Thanksgiving!