The Reporter’s final editorial of 2010 predicted there would be couple of major trends to look for in the upcoming year, one hopeful and one a matter of endurance.
Turns out one out of two isn’t bad.
The “endurance” prediction shook out pretty much as expected. The year that ends Friday night has indeed pretty much brought the full effect of the 2008 closing of Alcoa’s Rockdale Operations to our community.
Most recent unemployment statistics show a 10.8-percent rate in Milam County. That’s considerably higher than all the neighboring counties, about 40 percent higher than Burleson and Lee.
In fact it’s a full point higher than the national average (9.8 for the comparable month) which has generated so much worry recently.
It’s also considerably higher than the Texas average of 8.2 percent.
So we’re pretty much where we expected to be. You can’t lose an 1,100-job facility and not hurt.
The other end-of-2009 trend didn’t turn out like we hoped it would. At the end of 2009 we were looking for Blackhawk Health Care’s plans to build a newer, better Richards Memorial Hospital to “take wing.”
What “took wing” was Blackhawk’s leadership, departing the rapidly failing company after it had closed its Bastrop Hospital and, according to the company’s new owner, came within days of closing Richards Memorial too.
RMH has been left facing yet another in a series of financial crises. But that new owner has pledged to keep the 36-year-old facility open.
With those two major trends “bottoming out,” so to speak during 2010, it appears 2011 will begin as an “opportunityrich environment” to borrow the military’s euphemism for being surrounded.
There are dedicated, talented people working diligently for our community. They need our help and support during 2011.—M.B.