This post originally appeared on The Center for Public Integrity.
DALTON, GA. — Beneath the “Buy American” roadside signs here, a globalist heart beats in this mostly rural corner of Northwest Georgia.
In the late 1980s, factories began eagerly hiring Mexican immigrants to help fuel a boom in the so-called Carpet Capital of the World. Automation and the 2008 recession went on to pare a lot of jobs.
But plants of all sizes are back at it again, producing about half the world’s carpeting as well as hard-surface flooring, a new signature product. Other shops nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains churn out everything from auto parts and appliances to goods made from chemicals, metal, wood and rubber. A sense of recovery is in the air.
Global investments flow in. Domestic sales and exports flow out. And just as many factories here turned to immigrants for manpower, they’ve also grown accustomed to foreign sources of materials — from Asia, Europe, Latin America — to make flooring and all kinds of other goods.
“If I want to make something with quality,” and an import helps, “I’m going to get it. I have to. I want to make money. That’s the point,” said veteran flooring worker Eduardo Osegueda, part of a migration that’s brought the world into Dalton, a city of 34,000 that sits along Interstate 75.
While most of the flooring made here is sold domestically, for housing and commercial space, carpet can also end up installed in vehicles, ships and aircraft bound for export. The Dalton area also directly exports more carpeting than anywhere else in the United States, primarily to Canada and Mexico. There’s no doubt that global trade helps grease the wheels of the economy here.
And therein lies the irony.
Because this is Trump country. In a five-county region surrounding Dalton, three-fourths of voters cast their ballots for the former New York real estate developer. And yet, if the new…