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TALE OF TWO CITIES: COINAGE METAL'S DIFFERING EFFECT ON COMMUNITIES
Dick Johnson forwarded this article on the differing effects current events are having on towns dependent on producing metals for coinage. -EditorGreenville, in northeastern Tennessee, is the home of the zinc plant of Jarden Industries. Its 200 employees have been preparing blanks for the U.S. government's mints by copper plating zinc discs of precise size. In fact, three-quarters of its business have been these one-cent blanks, $104 million worth in 1907 alone, $275 since 2004 for this single product.
Recently the Mint informed the firm it is not renewing its contract for zinc blanks, as the current contract expires September 30th. Talk among Congress is that it is learning toward cents struck in steel. With a drop of three-quarters of its business, layoffs are expected at one of the city's largest employers.
Things are gloomy in Greenville.
In contrast, Calumet in Michigan's Upper Peninsula is basking in higher copper prices while demand is holding steady. Calumet is the center of the copper producing area. They credit the U.S. cent for the founding of this prosperity. For a group of visitors a guide holds up a copper cent coin.
"It may be more or less worthless, but it's still of value for the story that's inside," says park ranger Dan Brown, holding up the coin.
That story is the centerpiece of Keweenaw National Park -- a park with no clear boundaries and little focus on natural beauty, though that's found in abundance in the region's untouched forests and along its craggy Lake Superior coastlines. The story is told through a loose collection of museums, historic buildings, mine tours and ghost towns that once were among the state's most thriving and affluent settlements and now are spread across the Keweenaw Peninsula.
Copper contributes to the area's prosperity.
For good news in Michigan's copper country: To read the complete article, see: Copper Country: National park brings copper-rush days to life in Western U.P. (http://www.mlive.com/travel/index.ssf/2008/07/
For bad news in Tennessee's zinc community: A Penny Saved? A supplier of the much-maligned coin tries to keep making cents (http://www.businesstn.com/pub/5_7/features/8581-1.html )
Wayne Homren, Editor
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