This is not a review, however. I am using a part of her argument to discuss one of the many ideas I have about Michigan -- its culture and its economy. Cities, for Jacobs, are the origin of economic development. It is in cities (and city regions, she acknowledges, writing in 1984) that new products and processes are developed, that knowledge is shared and advanced, and that wealth is created. Perhaps the chief idea in this book is "import replacement." Basically, a party within a city or town, which imports its products, figures out how to create a particular product locally, obviating the need to import it. This could be something like nails. Where a city might do all its building with imported nails, if somebody figures out how to get their hands on an iron supply and to start up a small factory, that portion of the cost of building stays in the local economy, and the city or town takes a baby step towards self-sufficiency. (That self-sufficiency is aided in no small part by resources like iron in the surrounding "supply region," but it is not necessarily dependent upon the existence of those local resources.) Then, when that nail factory gets up and running and can even supply other towns and regions with nails, somebody might take that locally produced wealth and expand the factory into a more developed iron/steel product, or some workers who know the nail-making process might start their own factory for screws or ax-heads or shovel blades, or whatever, replacing another good that the city and region had imported. This process of developing new products is what makes cities prosperous. This can be applied to intellectual products, as well. (I won't go into discussion of many other important or interesting ideas in the book, but I could, and may at some point in the future.)
Anyway, to bring this around to the title of this post, I'm resurrecting an idea I had last summer. Basically, we develop a new soft drink that features Michigan fruit flavors (natural, NOT the synthetic equivalents) and is sweetened by sugar (or a derivative) from Michigan sugar beets. Did you know that Pioneer Sugar is based in Saginaw? You should NEVER buy Domino sugar. EVER.
Drawing on Michigan agricultural products, this spurs demand for Michigan fruit, which, aside from cherries, is languishing in competition with California fruit and foreign imports (though most Michigan products are better, I think). Actual sucrose is a better sweetener than high fructose corn syrup because HFCS-sweetened products do not give you a feeling of satiety even though you are consuming calories, so it would actually be less bad for you than Coke. In addition, these soft drinks would replace Mexican imports like Jarritos sodas (and maybe regionally-produced drinks like Coke) and would have an overall economic spur in production/manufacturing. It might also spur some food research and development of new sweeteners or other fruit-based products. Finally, the plant(s) should be located in an industrial brownfield like one might find in, say, Kalamazoo or Benton Harbor, both in or near the Michigan Fruit Belt, where paper, cigars, cars, stockings, and other manufacturing products were formerly king. Agricultural development AND urban revitalization? Where do I sign? The idea is free (and if somebody like Todd Leopold who knows beverage-making wants to drop me a line, please feel free), but if you make a million off this idea, send me 5 Gs at some point in thanks.