Our View: Looking back on a year of financial change

Editorial Board

It’s amazing how much things can change in a year.

Just past a year ago today, on Sept. 14, 2008, the financial services firm Merrill Lynch agreed to sell itself to Bank of America. The next day, Lehman Bros. filed for the largest Chapter 11 bankruptcy in American history after the government declined to bail out the financial firm. A day after that, the government did bail out AIG, paying $85 billion to take over the insurance corporation after it suffered plummeting credit ratings.

Those events triggered a year of uncertainty around the American economy, which saw plummeting stocks, a large-scale bailout of the auto industry and plenty of doubts about the country’s economic future.

Today, we’re living through that economic future, and while we all still have concerns about the economy, many of us are seeing brighter days than last fall.

True, America isn’t swimming in money this September. But the situation is better than it was 12 months ago when panic struck Wall Street and a second Great Depression looked very possible.

Things are also looking up closer to home because, for the most part, Kent is doing well during the recession.

This week, we’re taking a look at how the economic recession is affecting the city. What we found out was that while Kent’s revenue is down, the picture isn’t as bleak here as it is elsewhere.

Some businesses in Kent are having trouble this fall. But many others are coping well with the recession. New businesses have also come to Kent in the past year with the opening of Acorn Alley downtown.

One explanation for Kent’s survival during this difficult economic climate is that the city is used to living with lower budgets. Kent has never been a rich city, and it likely never will be. This recession is nothing new for Kent.

The university’s presence in the community also helps Kent. Kent State brings a large amount of tax revenue to the city, allowing the city’s budget to remain fairly stable during the recession.

And don’t forget about the students. More than 24,000 of us attend the Kent campus, providing local businesses with customers – and money – nine months out of the year. Without students’ business, Kent would be struggling more.

This isn’t to say the recession is over; it’s not. We’re still dealing with a high unemployment rate, particularly in northeast Ohio, and college graduates are having a hard time finding jobs. Ohio’s budget was slashed, and so was Kent State’s. Our belts will all be a little tighter this year.

Those problems are a reality of any recession. America’s economy has gone through a lot in the past year, and we should expect lingering issues. But it’s just nice to see a light at the end of the tunnel now and know it’s not an incoming train.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.