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At the end of 2019, there was a quiet sense of economic optimism in the air. 

The American economy had expanded by a greater than expected 2.1 percent, bringing overall growth for the year to a respectable (albeit unspectacular) 2.3 percent. While it may have been the lowest GDP expansion seen during the Trump administration, the foundation had been laid for what conceivably could have been a successful election year in 2020.  

This was, of course, before the coronavirus pandemic arrived. Fast-forward into 2021, and the landscape looks entirely different to what was being forecasted by analysts at the back end of 2019. 

While some economists warned that a recession was overdue following more than a decade of successive growth years since the financial crash of 2007-’09, nobody could have foreseen what has been the biggest blow to the U.S. economy since the Great Depression of the 1930s. 

And the figures, whichever way you analyze them, do make for depressing reading. 

Around the time of writing, nearly 500,000 people had died either with or because of COVID-19, with slightly more than 28 million cases recorded, making the United States one of—if not the most—devasted countries to be hit by the virus. 

It has been a public health crisis of astounding scale, one which is, thankfully, being addressed with a series of vaccinations that is a feat of human ingenuity and endeavor given how rapidly they have been developed, tested and approved by medical authorities. 

But while there is light at the end of the tunnel in this regard, attention will soon turn more squarely to the monumental economic fallout that the events of 2020 have created. 

As nations across the world responded and took steps to protect their populations, a trail of financial destruction inevitably followed. Economies have ground to a halt as localized and nationwide lockdowns have greatly limited the means by which the world’s workforce can move and keep the economic wheels turning. Certainty, the one thing businesses and investors crave, has been diminished. 

The exact amount of economic damage caused by COVID-19 is mightily difficult to predict accurately, but the headline figures which have come out of various analytical houses during the course of last year are stark. 

In July 2020, for example, the World Economic Forum (WEF) reported a GDP contraction at an annualized rate of 32.9 percent, the deepest decline since records began just after the end of World War II. The WEF also confirmed that more than 30 million Americans were receiving unemployment support at the time. 

More recently, in December 2020, the University of Southern California published a study that calculated possible losses in real GDP of between $3.2 trillion and $4.8 trillion over the course of just two years. This depends on a range of variables, including the extent and duration of business closures, how quickly areas open up, infection rates and fatalities, and consumer appetite to spend.  

Much of the United States’ overall recovery will depend on the support provided and actions taken from state to state, areas which have adopted drastically different levels of measures in response to the public health threat. 

From California to Florida, interventions have varied markedly, but there is no denying that every corner of the country is facing a battle to emerge from the other side of the economic troubles that lie ahead. 

So, against a nationwide backdrop of unwanted broken records, how have responses to these challenges been coordinated at a localized level? We start in the Upper Midwest.


Josh Hundt, the chief Business Development officer and executive vice president with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), witnessed first-hand the devastating impact caused by the coronavirus. 

“It comes as no surprise that as the global pandemic spread across the country last spring, industries and businesses felt an immediate impact to production and revenues streams,” Hundt says. “In Michigan, one of the state’s hardest hit in the early days of COVID-19, the manufacturing of PPE and life sciences equipment became essential services seemingly overnight.

“In the face of this adversity, Michigan’s Arsenal of Innovation was set in motion with manufacturers retooling their production lines to support the frontlines and create new revenue streams in uncertain economic times.”

MEDC responded in kind by immediately launching the COVID-19 Emergency Access and Retooling Grants through its Pure Michigan Business Connect program. In total, 12 businesses received retooling grants and produced 2.5 million units of PPE in a matter of months, generating $27 million in new sales, vital revenue to support their workforces and viability of operations. 

“As our manufacturers pivoted, small businesses all across the state faced unprecedented challenges as a result of the necessary steps to slow the spread of the virus, and overall changes in consumer behavior in the pandemic,” Hundt continues. “Again, the MEDC stepped in to help provide more than $240 million in relief over the past year to help our small businesses weather the economic storm and keep their workers employed.”

In total, 23 relief programs have provided support to more than 24,400 companies in Michigan and helped to retain 200,000 jobs. Hundt and the MEDC were also aware of the hardships endured by minority-owned businesses, issuing more than 9,000 awards to minority-owned, women-owned or veteran-owned business statewide. 

“In all corners of the state and across all industries, Michiganders have joined together to find innovative ways to use every resource available to fight this virus,” he says. “As we begin to look toward long-term recovery efforts, the MEDC and the state of Michigan remain committed to ensuring Michigan businesses of all kinds have the resources and opportunities to survive, succeed and grow here.”

New Mexico 

The Southwest state of New Mexico recorded a rate of 171 COVID-19 fatalities per 100,000 people as of Feb. 19. 

New Mexico has adopted a county-by-county, three-level restriction system (red, yellow and green), which details numerous measures surrounding retail, food and drink establishments, gatherings and more. Brought in at the start of December, the tiered approach is designed to enable maximum flexibility in a bid to restart New Mexico’s economy.

Impetus is needed if August 2020 figures are anything to go by. At that time, more than 97,000 residents were in receipt of unemployment benefits, this after more than 250,000 new benefit claims were made in the five prior months.

Around 30 companies in the state had declared bankruptcy, with four in 10 restaurants temporarily closed and 3 percent closed permanently. Meanwhile, consumer spending had fallen year-on-year by 12 percent. 

However, the state Economic Development Department’s (EDD) economic diversity and job expansion drive has done its best to support businesses throughout the worst of the pandemic. 

There are two flagship initiatives being pushed. First is the Job Training Incentive Program (JTIP), designed to assist businesses as they create jobs for new workers and advance skills of existing employees. In 2020, JTIP pledged training reimbursements to 75 businesses across the state in support of 2,380 jobs, around 30 percent being targeted in rural areas. 

The second major scheme is the Local Economic Development Act, known as the LEDA job-creators fund, which made strategic investments in 18 companies that will create 2,500 new jobs. The beneficiary companies have committed to invest $761 million in New Mexico over the next decade, $150 million of which is being spent on staff wages. 

The EDD has also been working to keep the public informed about existing financial assistance programs, publishing a weekly newsletter that lists economic assistance resources for communities and businesses, and hosting more than 30 webinars since the start of the pandemic in March.


A particular pain point in this Pacific Northwest state has been the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has had on travel. Home to a tourism industry that boomed in decade leading up to 2020, Oregon saw travel-related spending increase by 4.2 percent to some $12.3 billion in 2018, activity which provided employment to more than 115,000 Oregonians.

COVID-19, unsurprisingly, has hit hard. While Oregon avoided the worst of the virus when it first arrived in early 2020 in America (and, more specifically, neighboring Washington), deaths have passed the 2,000 mark during the winter period. 

As a result, authorities have issued statewide guidance around social distancing, mask wearing and how to undertake a range of activities safely. Alongside this is a four-grade restriction system based on the prevalence of the virus, the highest risk areas subject to the toughest measures, which include closure of indoor entertainment venues and exercise centers. 

Tourism and leisure activity are thus enormously reduced. Quarantines, travel directives, event postponements and restrictions placed on venues have all created hardships for the sector, with passenger numbers passing through Portland International Airport still well under 50 percent of pre-COVID levels.

The wider economic impact has been profound. In its Economic and Revenue Forecast published in September, the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis said the state’s economy remains “in a Great Recession-sized hole,” although not as a big a hole as feared previously. For instance, expectations are that the labor market will return to a healthy state by mid-2023.

In response, several economic associations have come together and pooled resources to help companies in all sectors get back on their feet. From business reopening tools and occupational health and safety advice to free COVID-19 safety training and social media drives, many activities are taking place in line with the statewide mission to vaccinate the population and restore public health. 

Early on in the pandemic, the Oregon Economic Development Association (OEDA) released a series of economic development priorities for COVID economic recovery, a framework that has informed its ongoing response. It advocates a range of measures, including flexibility for local non-discretionary funds to target those that need support the most and protection of existing state development resources such as the Strategic Reserve Fund and Special Public Work Funds. 

The OEDA also supports moves to ease tax burdens on small businesses through loans and grants, as well as the continuation of incentive programs to encourage investment into the state. 

“Undoubtedly, more communities will experience significant drops in local wages and employment opportunities,” states the OEDA in its plan for recovery. “Oregon needs to leverage our existing programs to bring sustainable jobs to disadvantaged communities and keep capital flowing to employers looking to invest. Allowances should be made for companies that may be seeing temporary employment reductions related to the pandemic which jeopardize an existing program qualification.”

The OEDA also makes several process-based recommendations, which stress the need to engage a wide range of stakeholders, ensure fair distribution of federal funds, and determine the needs of local employers. 

New York 

New York State experienced more COVID-related deaths (46,436 as of Feb. 19, 2020) than any other U.S. state except California (48,259 as of the same date). And the economic crisis that currently faces New York City because of the region’s rapid virus transmission is similarly shocking.

In total, the pandemic cost the Big Apple 570,000 jobs in 2020. Its performing arts, retail and hospitalities that would usually have thrived have been some of the hardest hit, with around 1,000 store locations shutting last year.

Such action has resulted in a surge of joblessness, particularly among young people, with 19 percent of all city workers under the age of 25 having lost their jobs by summer 2020. Fast forward to January 2021 and total unemployment stood at 12 percent–a figure that would have been even greater had 240,000 New Yorkers not dropped out of the workforce altogether.

A lack of tourism, dwindling commuter numbers and evacuating residents all put further pressure on a struggling economy. Yet, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) has been taking various actions to support the individuals and small businesses bearing the brunt of the pandemic-induced recession.

The Queens Small Business Grant Program is one such endeavor. Signed on Jan. 19, 2021, it will provide $15 million in grants to small businesses in the borough, each eligible of receiving up to $20,000.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our communities and their success is key to the city’s long-term economic recovery,” said James Patchett, president and CEO of the NYCEDC.

“We’re thrilled the fund will provide much-needed relief to Queens businesses, particularly to those in the neighborhoods and populations hardest hit by COVID-19.”

The NYCEDC also launched the NYC Small Business Resource Network, a one-stop shop built to accelerate the recovery of small businesses and strengthen the city’s economy. Here, $2.8 million in grants—funded by the Peterson Foundation—are available, with most of these set to go to the minority-, women- and immigrant-owned businesses that have been disproportionately affected.

Approximately 1.3 million people are employed by the city’s 236,000 small businesses, a figure that truly demonstrates their importance to its economic success.


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“If your board is asking you to grow a pipeline of qualified prospects, the GSLI Project Portal is a great starting point that will take you through the entire process, seamlessly,” Kleinsorge explains. “Our team of dedicated employees paired with our fully automated system works on your behalf to identify and nurture projects that align with your goals.”

In the beginning…

Mr. Kleinsorge was first tasked with identifying ways to support and train the Economic Development Community more than 25 years ago. His main goal of teaching EDCs to successfully market themselves to companies seeking to expand or relocate. Fast-forward to today and GSLI is the result of Kleinsorge’s dedication to bridging the gap between qualified leads and EDCs ready to grow their community.

Company Toolbox.

The company’s monthly Prospect Live webinars are one of the many ways GSLI educates and connects EDCs seeking to add jobs and grow their economy. Live discussions with GSLI’s very own active projects and what location needs are critical for success. Additionally, GSLI’s One-Minute Community Assessment narrows down exactly what projects fit within your community and how the Project Portal can support your corporation.

GSLI further reiterated its commitment to EDCs during the outbreak of COVID-19. In March of 2020, the company announced the launching of its COVID C.A.R.E. Response Program. COVID C.A.R.E. (Coronavirus Automated Response Effort) aimed at supporting communities and local businesses suffering from the economic downturn.

“We have been in the business of helping communities attract new jobs and now it’s our turn to help communities keep these jobs,” Kleinsorge said in a company press release.

Get Started Today.

To learn more about how GSLI can grow your community, or if your company is ready to take the next step in site selection, take five minutes to learn about the GSLI Project Portal here.


For more than 20 years, GSLI has been the premier partner of choice for communities – both big and small, looking to create a solid economic foundation primed for growth and success. GSLI boasts over 75 Site Location Expert offices nationwide and solid success rate in supporting the economic development community through our team of project managers, marketing gurus, web developers, and finance experts.



Shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the nation into a series of lockdowns, warehouses large and small were sprouting all over the U.S. Once the pandemic hit, and lockdowns forced much of the nation to remain at home, e-commerce spiked like never before, and that’s been driving up the demand for even more distribution facilities.

Since the lockdowns began, Amazon has hired 175,000 new employees and beefed up its distribution network across the country, according to the Houston Business Journal. In April 2020, the Dallas Morning News reported that the distribution sector was seeing record business because of the pandemic.

“We have already seen that warehouse operations are proving to be more essential than ever,” Michael Caffey, president of the analyst firm CBRE’s South-Central Division and Latin America, told the paper. “The long-term effects of COVID-19 may boost industrial demand as retailers work to ensure they have adequate inventory levels to meet consumer demand. … In addition, COVID-19 and its associated quarantines are creating new online consumers, which will further increase e-commerce’s share of total retail sales.”

While new and larger warehouses are going up all over the U.S., here are 20 communities where demand seems especially high.

Chicago, Illinois

The market for warehouses and distribution in Chicago has been massive for years—fed by e-commerce and cold-storage, according to a 2019 post on the Chicago real estate news website The Real Deal. Even legalized recreational marijuana is expected to help fuel the warehouse expansion. And it was recently ranked very high in a 2018 CBRE analysis of future warehouse development. “In the smaller cities you see more fluctuations, but Chicago is one of the largest markets in the country and is just really sustainable,” CBRE Senior Vice President Whit Heitman told the Chicago Business Journal at the time.

Riverside, California

The growth of e-commerce has been driving warehouse construction in California’s Inland Empire for at least the past five years, and there’s no end in sight, according to a January 2020 article in the Riverside Press Enterprise. In fact, the region accounted for 21 of the largest lease deals in the nation in 2019—17.5 million square feet of warehouses and distribution centers. Of particular note was that a full million of that square footage belonged to Nordstrom’s new Riverside warehouse. The reasons for the high demand include proximity to the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and a huge workforce that includes 141,000 logistics-related workers in Riverside and nearby San Bernardino Counties.

Houston, Texas

A steadily increasing population has led the Greater Houston Partnership to call that city and its surrounding metropolitan area a “global logistics and distribution hub,” according to a June 2020 Houston Business Journal story, and it’s easy to see why. The retail giant Amazon already operates a 1-million-square foot fulfillment center there, another 855,000-square-foot center, a few smaller facilities, and in June committed to building another fulfillment center that will encompass nearly a million square feet. In 2017, the Houston Chronicle reported that there was more than 6 million square feet in the city dedicated to warehousing and distribution—a 60 percent increase over the previous two years.

Detroit, Michigan

Even in the midst of a pandemic, people need to eat, which is why Lineage Logistics’ cold storage warehouse in Novi, just outside Detroit, announced that it was hiring 2,000 workers in March, as practically everyone else went into lockdown. According to a March 16 post on Crain’s Detroit Business news site, the labor increase is due to Lineage’s retail customers seeing a “20 percent to 50 percent increase” in sales as restaurants closed and grocery stores hurried to pick up the massive new demand. Growth in warehouse and distribution in Detroit has been steadily rising for the past five years, with Amazon opening a massive new fulfillment center in nearby Romulus in 2018.

Richmond, Virginia

In 2018, the firm CBRE declared that Richmond’s industrial warehouse market was in the midst of a “golden age,” according to an article that year in Virginia Business. Proximity to the Port of Richmond, a large population and growth in the e-commerce sector have led to growth that really began back in 2012, when Amazon opened a large distribution facility in the city. Since then, the size of the new warehouses began increasing along with their quantity—these days, the demand is for warehouses from 200,000- to 1 million square feet, according to Virginia Business.

Middlesex County, New Jersey

While the entire state of New Jersey has experienced considerable warehouse development (its location between Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., makes it an ideal distribution hub), Middlesex County is a powerhouse on its own. In fact, in 2017 WHYY reported that the area—which is just off the Jersey Turnpike—is “internationally known as a prime location for warehouses.” In 2019 alone, Wayfair executed a 950,000-square-foot lease there, while Crate & Barrel opted for an 870,000-square-foot operation, according to an October 2019 post on ReBusiness Online. In early 2020, MyCentralJersey reported that the Rockefeller Group proposed redeveloping an old Union Carbide factory in the county into a 420,000-square-foot warehouse.

Atlanta, Georgia

Considering that Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is the busiest airport in the world, and the city has been a logistical hub since before the Civil War, it’s no wonder that Atlanta holds so many warehouses. In fact, the city caters to a variety of business, education and government distribution networks and facilities, according to the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce. And many of the facilities already built and under construction in Atlanta are both large and high-tech—able to accommodate both large fleets of vehicles as well as robots and drones. In just one quarter of 2018, more than 16 million square feet of warehouse space was under construction, according to an Atlanta Business Chronicle story that year.

Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas

Even with the COVID-19 pandemic, warehouse operations are expanding in North Texas. In mid-April 2020, the Dallas Morning News reported that nearly 24 million square feet of warehouse space was under construction in the region. What’s more, the newspaper reported that warehouse demand there has run in the 20 million square feet range for the past four years. And with e-commerce making huge gains during the pandemic, industry analysts are predicting the demand won’t lessen anytime soon. “Increasing demand for goods bought online, especially food, will fuel the need for distribution facilities at a pace much higher than in the current cycle,” Michael Caffey, president of CBRE’s South-Central division and Latin America, said in the Morning News article.

Columbia, South Carolina

The Midlands region of South Carolina has long been home to giant distribution centers belonging to a range of companies, including Target, Home Depot and Amazon, the growth of which is closely linked to the rise of e-commerce. In fact, warehouse facilities make up the largest portion of the Midlands industrial real estate market (more than 44 million square feet), according to a July 2019 article in Columbia Regional Business Report. A late 2019 report from Colliers International found that the region would continue to grow due to “convenient logistic systems, a vibrant business climate, positive capital investment and low unemployment rates.”

Fernley, Nevada

For the past few years, Fernley has developed itself as Northern Nevada’s logistics hub. “It is particularly well-situated for linkages between rail, trucking and warehousing operations,” Robert Hooper, Northern Nevada Development Authority president and CEO, told KTVN News in June 2018. As Hooper said that, the powersports company Polaris was starting construction on a 475,000-square-foot distribution center in the town of about 21,000 people that’s about a half hour east of Reno. Since then, even larger facilities have been envisioned for Fernley, including an 815,000-square-foot warehouse that will be part of the new—and sprawling—Victory Logistics District, according to an April 2020 report in The Nevada Appeal. The new facilities, developers say, will include 40-foot clear heights, which will allow tenants to store more palletized products.

Portland, Oregon

While the growth in e-commerce has been responsible for massive new warehouses throughout the country, in Portland online retail is spurring growth in small warehouse construction. According to a March 2019 Oregon Business article, many smaller retailers who sell their products online are needing warehouse space to avoid the storage fees companies such as Amazon charge. In fact, many of these smaller retailers are looking to self-storage facilities for their needs, Oregon Business reports. In 2018, the real estate market analysis firm Yardi Matrix reported that Portland had one of the highest rates of self-storage facility development in America.

Phoenix, Arizona

Few cities in the U.S. are better equipped for warehouses and distribution than Phoenix. The biggest reason is undoubtedly the geography—Phoenix is relatively close to a variety of major cities throughout the Southwest, connected by a variety of major freeways. The hot and dry climate is also a contributing factor. According to a 2018 Colliers International Industrial Market Report, 7 million of the 7.8 million square feet of new industrial space in Phoenix that year was dedicated to warehousing and distribution. There are currently half a dozen major warehouses and distribution facilities planned for Phoenix and the surrounding area, according to an October 2019 report by the AZ Big Media publishing company.

York County, Pennsylvania

Central Pennsylvania is critical for warehouses and distributors, and York County is right in the thick of it. There are dozens of centers located there, mostly along the I-83 corridor between Harrisburg and Baltimore, and they are key to distribution for many East Coast cities, according to a March 2020 York Dispatch story. And the growth is continuing: Kinsley Properties—which already owns several warehouses in the county—has plans to build a new 175,000-square-foot warehouse along the corridor this year.

Birmingham, Alabama

Because the city sits at the juncture of four major interstates and is served by six rail lines, Birmingham is a natural distribution point. In October 2019, the Birmingham Business Journal reported that Amazon was preparing to build a nearly 100,000-square-foot warehouse in that city, which industry analysts said would help the e-commerce giant more toward same-day delivery. The Business Journal revealed that the warehouse would be up and running by the end of 2020. This facility followed an even larger one—an 825,000 square footer—that the company built in 2018 in Bessemer, which is just minutes away from Birmingham.

Miami, Florida

Warehouse demand—fueled largely by e-commerce—has been steadily rising in South Florida for the past few years. This isn’t surprising given the area’s close proximity to Central and South America and the Caribbean. And development is continuing into 2020. In fact, more than 3 million square feet of spec warehouse space is expected to come online this year, the Miami Herald reported in January. Four months later, The Real Deal South Florida Real Estate News reported that leases around Miami Airport were increasing in the logistics and transportation sectors—specifically in the 10,000-square-foot to 150,000-square-foot range.

Baltimore, Maryland

E-commerce has been expanding warehousing and distribution in Baltimore for the better part of a decade. In 2014, Amazon opened a massive 1-million-square-foot warehouse at an old General Motors plant in the city. A spokesperson for the online retailing giant told the Baltimore Sun at the time that the company chose the city because it put them closer to their customer base. (As the paper reported, the closest Amazon warehouse to Baltimore was 70 miles away at the time.) Since then, demand has only gone up; in fact, this past April, Amazon announced they would develop another 1-million-square-foot warehouse in Baltimore.

Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville’s strategic location for shippers is unparalleled—Music City USA is served by three interstates, a navigable river and multiple rail lines. Since 2012, 3 million square feet of warehouse space has gone up in Nashville, according to a January 2020 article in The Tennessean. In late June 2020, Amazon—which is already building a massive office complex in Nashville—announced that it would also construct a 200,000-square-foot warehouse there, too. Like Portland, Oregon, Nashville is also seeing tremendous growth in the self-storage sector.

Cleveland, Ohio

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, growth in demand generated by e-commerce was far outstripping the supply of warehouses in Cleveland. And it’s not just Amazon, either: “A lot of companies are growing their delivery business, expanding their need for warehouse space,” News 5 in Cleveland reported in late February. Of course, Amazon is there, too, and the company announced in early July that it had leased a 434,000-square-foot warehouse in Cleveland to use as a new distribution facility, reported. Around the same time, Amazon also announced plans to start using two other smaller warehouses in the Cleveland area.

Denver, Colorado

Warehouse and distribution have been growing in the greater Denver area for nearly 20 years, the Denver Post reported in February. And while Amazon already operates four large centers there, growth is also coming from FedEx, Walmart, Tempur-Pedic and even industrial hemp, the Post noted. In early 2019, GE Appliances cited Denver’s rapidly rising population growth as reason for it to open a new high-tech Denver Area Distribution Center, complete with RFID-tracking and parking for 100 trailers. The new facility would allow the company “to deliver products in three days or fewer to 90 percent of U.S. homes,” Mark Shirkness, vice president of Distribution for GE Appliances, said at the time.

Louisville, Kentucky

Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport, the UPS Worldport hub just south of the airport and the city’s general centralized location are big reasons why warehouse development has been growing in Louisville for the past few years. This has all contributed to a “red hot” industrial market there, the Louisville Future email newsletter reported in 2018. “The strength of the Louisville industrial market has been going on for several years, as its position as a central transportation hub, especially including UPS Worldport, and development of large industrial parks have invited large warehousing facilities—and, especially, e-commerce fulfillment,” Louisville Future stated. That there was 3.5 million square feet of new industrial market construction in Louisville in just the first six months of 2018 would seem to say “red hot” is an understatement.



Niche cities are playing a key role in our nation’s economic development, according to the McKinsey Global Institute’s July 2019 report “The Future of Work in America.” Some of the cities, which the report’s authors call “small powerhouses,” are currently enjoying the fastest economic growth rates in the nation.

Inspired by this, we found 20 niche communities around the U.S. and outlined what it is that makes them special.



For the past 120 years, rice has been a staple crop for Matagorda County, which is located in the coastal prairie region of Texas. So much so that the crop brings in $135 million every year to the county and surrounding area, according to the Matagorda County Economic Development Corporation. While drought in recent years has taken a toll on the farms, rice farmers have lately been diversifying with new enterprises and even niche marketing. Even with recent losses, the Texas Farm Bureau says Matagorda and nearby Colorado and Wharton counties account for 60 percent of the rice grown in the state.



Considered one of the most productive agricultural areas in the world, Tulare County sits atop old Tulare Lake, which accounts for the incredibly fertile soil. Farmers and agro-scientists have raved over the land for easily the last century. “The soil is known to contain in exact proportions the elements needed for the growth of citrus trees,” states the 1910 Report of the California State Agricultural Society. Today, the county grows a variety of citrus, stone fruits, nuts, berries and silage crops. Farm employment accounts for a quarter of all jobs in Tulare County, which has 45 crops worth more than $1 million in farm gate gross value, according to the Tulare County Farm Bureau.



An astonishing half of all mushrooms grown in the U.S. comes from Chester County. Though mushrooms can grow anywhere (in fact, commercial mushrooms are typically grown indoors), since the late 1880s, farms started springing up in this part of Pennsylvania, according to a 2012 NPR report. Today, there are 60 farms here, producing a half-billion pounds of mushrooms every year. That’s about $400 million worth of Agaricus (also known as white button), Portobello, Cremini (also known as common), Shiitake and Oyster mushrooms every year. Agaricus mushrooms alone have 12.6 million square feet of growing space, according to the Chester County Agricultural Development Council.



Rockford calls itself the “Screw Capital of the World,” so you know it’s legit. Around the 1940s, when the city’s furniture-making industries began closing, the manufacturing of fasteners began to take off. By the 1960s, according to the Rockford Economic Development Council, the city was the fifth-largest fastener manufacturer in the nation. Though the city today is home to numerous automotive and aircraft manufacturing plants, it still produces many of the screws, bolts and fasteners we use.



Nearly 80 percent of all the gold mined in the U.S. comes from mines in and around Elko, which is located in northeastern Nevada. The more than a dozen mines there produced about 5.6 million troy ounces of gold in 2018, all worth about $7 billion. Though gold production has historically followed a pretty harsh boom and bust cycle, the geologist John Muntean told Elko Daily Free Press in July 2018 that the area has been experiencing a gold rush “for close to 50 years.”



Located in West Texas, Brownfield and surrounding Terry County have very dry air, which while great for grape production, was for a long time hindered by the local government’s prohibition-dry politics. But that relaxed a few years ago, and now wine is booming there, thanks to 3,000 acres of grape production. In fact, Brownfield grows most of the grapes in the entire state of Texas. “I think Texas loves vineyards because it’s Jesus’ first miracle,” Katy Jane Seaton, co-owner of Farmhouse Vineyards, told KCBD in 2018.



Considered the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World, Plant City (and surrounding Hillsborough County) has about 8,000 acres in production, according to the Florida Strawberry Growers Association. Given the area’s mild subtropical climate and extremely fertile soil, this is easy to understand. The fields add up to Florida being the nation’s second-highest strawberry producing state, behind California. The Florida growing season runs from around Thanksgiving to the end of March, which is when they’re typically the most affordable at the supermarket.



For the last century, manufacturers in Wichita have produced more than a quarter million aircraft—more than any other city on Earth. In fact, Wichita business leaders dubbed it “Air Capital City” way back in 1929. Today, more than half of the world’s light civilian airplanes came from plants in Wichita—Bombardier Learjet, Cessna, Hawker Beechcraft and so forth. The list of aircraft types includes trainers, biplanes, racing planes, crop dusters, seaplanes, personal aircraft and business jets. Plants in Wichita also supply huge quantities of parts for other aircraft manufacturers.


Chile peppers

Hatch is a tiny town (pop. 1,680) with a huge reputation. Chile peppers are a huge crop in New Mexico, and much of them are grown here. Hatch chiles are world famous, known for their earthy taste and slow-burning heat. When roasted, they’re almost buttery. Some say the soil in the Hatch Valley provides the key to the peppers, while others point to the area’s 4,000-foot altitude (the peppers need hot days and cool nights to grow). “Hatch is considered the Napa Valley of chile,” Chris Franzoy, owner of the Hatch Chile Factory, told The New York Times in December 2019.



Officials in the village of Morton, located just outside Peoria, consider their little hamlet the “Pumpkin Capital of the World” because an astonishing 85 percent of all canned pumpkin on the planet comes from the plant there constructed back in 1920. Nestle USA/Libby’s owns the plant now, and it covers 5,000 acres. “There are also pumpkin farms surrounding this whole area,” Village President Ronald Rainson told a CBS Chicago reporter back in 2014. Morton gets good sunlight, farmers say, and the soils are varied, allowing for both early and late planting.


Recreational vehicles

When you see a big RV rolling down the road, there’s a very good chance it came from Northern Indiana. That region—and the town of Elkhart, especially—manufactures about 80 percent of all RVs found in the world. According to author Al Hesselbart, who documented Indiana’s manufacturing history in his book The Dumb Thing Sold… Just Like That, it all started in the 1930s when three guys decided to start making trailers in their Northern Indiana backyards. The area made sense, given that it’s located in the heart of America, making it easy for plants to ship their trailers around the county.



Somewhere between 50 million and 100 million years ago, massive quantities of aluminum silicate began washing down from the Piedmont Hills in Georgia. Eventually, these particles settled in a prehistoric sea that covered what is now Sandersville, located about halfway between Augusta and Macon. Known as kaolinite, this mineral is a vital ingredient in more than 100 modern products, including paper, ceramics, cosmetics, paint and even rocket nosecones. Every year, about 2.5 million tons of kaolinite is shipped out of Georgia, much of it from in and around Sandersville, where officials say the mining is an $800 million business and the Peach State’s largest volume export.



Three counties in Southern Illinois—Madison, Monroe and St. Clair—account for between 60 percent and 80 percent of all the horseradish grown in the nation. According to a 2018 article in St. Louis Magazine, there are three reasons for this. First, families that initially began farming horseradish back in the late 1880s have chosen to stay put. Second, much of the land is potash—extremely fertile soil that was once covered by the Mississippi River. And third (and most surprising): The sulfur pollutants released by the old steel mills in the area actually proved beneficial to the horseradish, actually giving the plant its characteristic heat, which is a product of its grating. In fact, the sulfur was so good to the horseradish that farmers today add it to the soil, making up for its loss from the closure of the steel mills.



Dalton makes wall-to-wall carpet. Since the 1890s, mills there have produced so much carpet that today it’s said that 90 percent of all wall-to-wall carpet in the world was made within 65 miles of Dalton, which is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains. In 2015, Atlas Obscura reported that the mills in and around Dalton produced a whopping 12.2 billion square feet of carpet every year—“enough to cover the entirety of Hong Kong in a thick, rich shag.” Built atop a mammoth bedspread industry that dated to 1895 in Dalton, the carpet mills benefitted from close proximity to dyeing and finishing firms.



Since 1872, people have grown apples in Wenatchee, located in north-central Washington. According to the Wenatchee Valley Museum and Cultural Center, city boosters in the first decade of the 20th century pointed to the area’s volcanic soils, sunshine, abundant water, the absence of high winds and cold nighttime temperatures as reasons why apples thrived there. And they still do—today, there are more than 1,700 fruit growers in the area surrounding Wenatchee, producing more than half the fresh apples consumed in the country.



Though caviar has been raised in the Sacramento area (specifically, the tiny nearby town of Elverta) since the 1970s, it was only recently that the area won the distinction of producing the best fish eggs in the nation. Today, sturgeon are commercially raised in the Sacramento area (they have long thrived in the Sacramento River), thanks in great part to the poaching, over-fishing and pollution that damaged other caviar spots in the United States. In fact, the Los Angeles Times reported in 2013 that Sacramento sturgeon produce 70 to 80 percent of all American caviar produced every year.



High Point, located between Greensboro and Winston-Salem in North Carolina, is the largest producer of furniture in the nation. The earlier furniture built there dates to the late 1700s, and access to nearby forests made it easy for furniture-makers to thrive. The industry really took off in the late 1800s, when the Southern Railway came to town, allowing for easy distribution. According to a May 2019 story in House Beautiful, the city today boasts 12 million square feet of showroom space, which is roughly the equivalent of 200 football fields, and it hosts the massive High Point Market showing off the industry’s latest designs every April and October.



According to the Bend Chamber of Commerce, there’s one brewery in Bend for every 4,500 residents in the state—the highest per capita rate in Oregon. There are breweries (and brew festivals) throughout Bend, which is located about three hours from Portland. Situated by the Deschutes River and the surrounding mountains and forests of Ponderosa Pine, Bend’s 20 or so breweries are legendary in the craft and microbrew scene. In fact, Deschutes Brewery is the eighth-largest craft brewery in the United States.



Bees are big business in this tiny North Dakota town, which is located near the middle of the state. Many of the state’s 350,000 hives are located in and around this town of 15,000 people, according to the American Bee Journal. Throughout the Peace Garden State, hives produce as much as 31 million pounds of honey, often leading the nation in production. The state’s wide-open prairies and low population make for a perfect habitat for bees, National Geographic reported in 2016, though many North Dakota farmers are increasingly converting their land to corn and soybean growing, diminishing the land available for bee production.


Men’s shirts

Thanks to Hong Kong-based The Apparel Group opening a 250,000-square-foot distribution center in Lewisville, one in six men’s shirts in the U.S. came from this town, located just north of Dallas. While the shirts are made in Asia, they’re designed in Lewisville, according to a 2017 Dallas Morning News story. The warehouse itself can hold a quarter-million shirts on hangers. The center opened in Lewisville to be close to the buying and distribution centers of Dillard’s and J.C. Penney, which are located in nearby Fort Worth.