Manufacturing Jobs Have Disappeared In The U.S. Here’s How High Schools Could Help.

"Bill Gates was a kid at one time."

By Gabe Rivin

The past often looms large when people talk about Endicott.

Endicott was the birthplace of IBM. It was a manufacturing powerhouse. Shoes, computer parts, leather — the village, near New York’s border with Pennsylvania, was always a company town. It was the kind of place with plenty of jobs to go around.

But over the years, things took a turn for the worse. Endicott-Johnson, the shoe manufacturer, relocated to Tennessee after being acquired in 1995. Seven years later, IBM sold off its Endicott headquarters. Thousands of local jobs disappeared, and the area set into a long-term period of transition.

[quote position="full" is_quote="true"]Endicott’s residents have experienced that too-familiar story of industrial decline and economic instability. But while that story is familiar, the residents have taken a very unfamiliar approach to rebuilding their economy.[/quote]

It’s one that that centers on a new high school, known as Tiger Ventures. “We’re developing the skills of students, for them to be able to go out there, and be small-business owners and community contributors,” says Mikki Cardell, the school’s principal, who adds that the large goal is to “change the face of what Endicott looks like.”

These aren’t the mere words of an idealistic school administrator. Tiger Ventures is attempting what few, if any, high schools have: to turn its students into active entrepreneurs, who will spark an economic revitalization throughout the area. It’s an ambitious effort, to say the least. And it’s one that begins with an unusual space on the school’s campus.

This is the business incubator.

Tiger Ventures has built up a creative space where local, adult entrepreneurs can run their startups. The incubator can house a variety of ventures. These range from tech startups to micro-organic farms. The incubator has offices, a co-working space, and printing equipment. High-speed internet is included. So, too, is access to industrial cooking equipment.

It’s an attractive option for startups that need a workspace. Especially because rent is free.

But with free rent comes a tradeoff. When they work on campus, entrepreneurs must agree to work side by side with students. Students serve as their interns and mentees. They work directly in the ventures, and, on the job, learn how to run businesses. In doing so, students have a direct hand in the ventures — and in the town’s economy. But Tiger Ventures has a larger goal for the students.

“We want to see students develop an idea, and when they graduate from Tiger Ventures, to start this business,” says Pamela Riddleberger, an assistant superintendent in Endicott’s school district. “We hope they’ll settle here.”

The aim is for students to graduate with New York’s Advanced Regents Diplomas, fully prepared to succeed in college. Once they return to Endicott, they’ll have real, shovel-ready business plans in hand — as well as the skillset to succeed in business.

Some students may start businesses straight out of high school as well. But either way, the goal is to cultivate students’ entrepreneurial spirit, so they’ll eventually spur economic development in Endicott.

Town officials are taking these students seriously.

“Those ones that catch the entrepreneur spirit — those are the ones who will take off and help our community,” says Joseph Moody, the director of economic development for the township of Union, where the village of Endicott is located.

Despite the focus on business, a school day at Tiger Ventures isn’t vastly different from that of another high school. Classes in the morning focus on traditional subjects, like English and math. Afternoon classes are more specialized. They focus on subjects like art and technology. Students graduate with the same well-rounded knowledge as other New York high schoolers.

It’s in the day’s final period that entrepreneurship gets special attention. In this period, students work on their own business plans, while learning from local entrepreneurs.

The learning experiences can be wide-ranging. Last year, for instance, students worked hands-on with a hydroponic-agriculture business. On other days, they took part in workshops from a visiting artist.

Cardell says that this model is particularly helpful for struggling students. “There’s a lot of ownership for the kids and opportunity for them to have a voice in [their education],” she says.

[quote position="full" is_quote="true"]I don’t know that kids get that opportunity, or have that kind of voice, in traditional schools.[/quote]

It’s only in its second year of operations, but Tiger Ventures has seen some significant results. In one case, students took part in a public relations campaign for a mental health nonprofit. The students filmed an organizational event, interviewed staff, and edited together a promotional video.

It was a boon for the organization. But perhaps most remarkable, Cardell says, is that two students who participated have selective mutism, an anxiety disorder in which children are unable to speak in some social situations.

“There they were in their Tiger Ventures shirts, standing behind the camera,” she says. “That was a real-world application for that project,” she says.

Some outsiders might be tempted to dismiss Tiger Ventures’ ambitions. The students are teens, after all. Is it really wise to place a community’s grand hopes on kids?

Moody, the economic developer, notes that the town is taking a handful of approaches to promote local business. Tiger Ventures is just one of many. But he says that it’s also shortsighted to discount young people.

“Bill Gates was a kid at one time,” he says.

He also notes that while major employers like IBM have moved out of town, there are plenty of reasons to be excited about the town’s future — and the potential of its youth to rebuild an economy in transition.

“People are getting past what we used to be,” he says. “I think this program is a great example of what we can be.”

All images provided by XQ.

via Collection of the New-York Historical Society / Wikimedia Commons

Fredrick Douglass was born into slavery in 1818. At the age of 10 he was given to the Auld family.

As a child, he worked as a house slave and was able to learn to read and write, and he attempted to teach his fellow slaves the same skills.

At the age of 15, he was given to Thomas Auld, a cruel man who beat and starved his slaves and thwarted any opportunity for them to practice their faith or to learn to read or write.

Keep Reading Show less
via Thomas Ledia / Wikimedia Commons

On April 20, 1889 at the Braunau am Inn, in Upper Austria Salzburger located at Vorstadt 15, Alois and Klara Hitler brought a son into the world. They named him Adolph.

Little did they know he would grow up to be one of the greatest forces of evil the world has ever known.

The Hitlers moved out of the Braunau am Inn when Adolph was three, but the three-story butter-colored building still stands. It has been the subject of controversy for seven decades.

via Thomas Ledia / Wikimedia Commons

The building was a meeting place for Nazi loyalists in the 1930s and '40s. After World War II, the building has become an informal pilgrimage site for neo-Nazis and veterans to glorify the murderous dictator.

The building was a thorn in the side to local government and residents to say the least.

RELATED: He photographed Nazi atrocities and buried the negatives. The unearthed images are unforgettable.

For years it was owned by Gerlinde Pommer, a descendant of the original owners. The Austrian government made numerous attempts to purchase it from her, but to no avail. The building has served many purposes, a school, a library, and a makeshift museum.

In 1989, a stone from the building was inscribed with:

"For Peace, Freedom

and Democracy.

Never Again Fascism.

Millions of Dead Remind [us]."

via Jo Oh / Wikimedia Commons

For three decades it was home to an organization that offered support and integration assistance for disabled people. But in 2011, the organization vacated the property because Pommer refused to bring it up to code.

RELATED: 'High Castle' producers destroyed every swastika used on the show and the video is oh-so satisfying

In 2017, the fight between the government and Pommer ended with it seizing the property. Authorities said it would get a "thorough architectural remodeling is necessary to permanently prevent the recognition and the symbolism of the building."

Now, the government intends to turn it into a police station which will surely deter any neo-Nazis from hanging around the building.

Austria has strict anti-Nazi laws that aim to prohibit any potential Nazi revival. The laws state that anyone who denies, belittles, condones or tries to justify the Nazi genocide or other Nazi crimes against humanity shall be punished with imprisonment for one year up to ten years.

In Austria the anti-Nazi laws are so strict one can go to prison for making the Nazi hand salute or saying "Heil Hitler."

"The future use of the house by the police should send an unmistakable signal that the role of this building as a memorial to the Nazis has been permanently revoked," Austria's IInterior Minister, Wolfgang Peschorn said in a statement.

The house is set to be redesigned following an international architectural competition.

via Chela Horsdal / Twitter

Amazon's "The Man in the High Castle" debuted the first episode of its final season last week.

The show is loosely based on an alternative history novel by Philip K. Dick that postulates what would happen if Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan controlled the United States after being victorious in World War II.

Keep Reading Show less
via Mike Mozart / Flickr

Chick-fil-A is the third-largest fast food chain in America, behind McDonald's and Starbucks, raking in over $10 billion a year.

But for years, the company has faced boycotts for supporting anti-LGBT charities, including the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Paul Anderson Youth Home.

The Salvation Army faced criticism after a leader in the organization implied that gay people "deserve to die" and the company also came under fire after refusing to offer same-sex couples health insurance. But the organization swears it's evolving on such issues.

via Thomas Hawk / Flickr

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes explicitly announced it was anti gay marriage in a recent "Statement of Faith."

God instituted marriage between one man and one woman as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.

The Paul Anderson Youth Home teaches boys that homosexuality is wrong and that same-sex marriage is "rage against Jesus Christ and His values."

RELATED: The 1975's singer bravely kissed a man at a Dubai concert to protest anti-LGBT oppression

In 2012, Chick-fil-A's CEO, Dan Cathy, made anti same-sex marriage comments on a radio broadcast:

I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, "We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage". I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.

But the chicken giant has now decided to change it's says its charitable donation strategy because it's bad for business...Not because being homophobic is wrong.

The company recently lost several bids to provide concessions in U.S. airports. A pop-up shop in England was told it would not be renewed after eight days following LGBTQ protests.

Chick-fil-A also has plans to expand to Boston, Massachusetts where its mayor, Thomas Menino, pledged to ban the restaurant from the city.

via Wikimedia Commons

"There's no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are," Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos told Bisnow. "There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message."

RELATED: Alan Turing will appear on the 50-pound note nearly 70 years after being persecuted for his sexuality

Instead, the Chick-fil-A Foundation plans to give $9 million to organizations that support education and fight homelessness. Which is commendable regardless of the company's troubled past.

"If Chick-Fil-A is serious about their pledge to stop holding hands with divisive anti-LGBTQ activists, then further transparency is needed regarding their deep ties to organizations like Focus on the Family, which exist purely to harm LGBTQ people and families," Drew Anderson, GLAAD's director of campaigns and rapid response, said in a statement.

Chick-fil-A's decision to back down from contributing to anti-LGBT charities shows the power that people have to fight back against companies by hitting them where it really hurts — the pocket book.

The question remains: If you previously avoided Chick-fil-A because it supported anti-LGBT organizations, is it now OK to eat there? Especially when Popeye's chicken sandwich is so good people will kill for it?


Oh, irony. You are having quite a day.

The Italian region of Veneto, which includes the city of Venice, is currently experiencing historic flooding. Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has stated that the flooding is a direct result of climate change, with the tide measuring the highest level in 50 years. The city (which is actually a collection of 100 islands in a lagoon—hence its famous canal streets), is no stranger to regular flooding, but is currently on the brink of declaring a state of emergency as waters refuse to recede.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet