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A TALE OF TWO CITIES UPSTATE'S DECLINE CONTRASTS WITH THE RISE OF OTHER RUST BELT MARKETS IN THE 1990S

Utica/Rome
Population: The metro area population stood at 298,878 in 1997, down 5.6 percent from 1990.
Job loss: 1,200 (down 0.9 percent).

Winners: Very few. The service sector added 9,700 jobs, with the largest gain coming in health services, which added 2,400 workers. General merchandise stores added 1,300 employees, while social service agencies added 1,400.

Losers: The area's biggest blow came with the closing of the Rome Air Force Base, which sent federal employment tumbling by 2,400. Factories continued to struggle: The closing of a once-thriving General Electric plant and several small mills led to a total manufacturing loss of 4,100 jobs.

Leadership: Voters elected a conservative Republican as county executive and the local chamber of commerce created "Edge," a new effort to lure business.

Outlook: Bleak. "This was a mill town," said Utica Area Chamber of Commerce President Robert Fowler. "Then the mills ran off to the South, and government and a few big businesses took care of us. Then they left, and now no one is taking care of us."
Flint, Mich.
Population: The metro area population stood at 436,393 in 1997, up 1.4 percent from 1990.

Job growth: 9,900 (up 5.8 percent).

Winners: Flint is enjoying a modest but broad-based revival. Local business service companies added 6,300 employees. Local engineering and management firms -- including many started by former General Motors workers -- added 1,700 jobs, as did bars and restaurants.

Losers: GM -- which made Flint a symbol of economic decline thanks to the movie "Roger and Me" -- continues to cut jobs. In total, the auto industry shed another 8,300 jobs here in the 1990s.

Leadership: Local leaders worked to reduce the area's dependence on the auto industry and encouraged the Detroit suburbs to sprawl into the Flint area. That prompted both a housing and retail boom.

Outlook: Improving. "What's happening is that our actions to diversify our economy are starting to pay off," said Larry Ford, president of the Flint Area Chamber of Commerce.