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In the twentieth century local economies in these states specialized in large scale manufacturing of finished medium to heavy industrial and consumer products as well as the transportation and processing of the raw materials required for heavy industry The area was referred to as the Manufacturing Belt Factory Belt or Steel Belt as opposed to the agricultural Midwestern states forming the so-called Corn Belt and Great Plains state that are often called the breadbasket of AmericaThe flourishing of industrial manufacturing in the region was caused in part by the close proximity to the Great Lakes waterways and abundance of paved roads water canals and railroads After the transportation infrastructure linked the iron ore found in northern Minnesota and Upper Michigan with the coal mined from Appalachian Mountains the Steel Belt was born Soon it developed into the Factory Belt with its great American manufacturing cities Chicago Buffalo Detroit Milwaukee Gary Cincinnati Toledo Cleveland Akron Youngstown and Pittsburgh among others This region for decades served as a magnet for immigrants from Austria-Hungary Poland and Russia who provided the industrial facilities with the inexpensive labor resourcesFollowing several boom periods from the late-19th to the mid-20th century cities in this area in the end of the century started to struggle to adapt to a variety of adverse economic and social conditions They include the US steel and iron industries decline the movement of manufacturing to the southeastern states with their lower labor costs the layouts due to the rise of automation in industrial processes a decreased need for labor in making steel products the internationalization of American business and the liberalization of foreign trade policies due to globalization Big and small cities that struggled the most with these conditions soon encountered several difficulties in common namely population loss and brain drain depletion of local tax revenues high unemployment and crime drugs swelling welfare rolls poor municipal credit ratings and deficit spendingThe Sun BeltThe Belt comprises the southern tier
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