It is small comfort to the 500 Lexmark employees in Central Kentucky who will soon lose their jobs that a lot of people can truly share their pain. Layoffs have become an unfortunately common part of the economic landscape.
Despite the pain any layoff brings, there's little benefit to be gained from looking for a villain here.
Lexmark is closing its inkjet business, the branch that produces printers largely for home use. Anyone who has strolled through an electronics store, or even a discount store, knows how keen the competition is in that market.
Additionally, sales of new computers and the printers likely to accompany them have, of course, faltered during this long economic slump.
Never miss a local story.
Markets change, the economy fluctuates and companies that survive can't just hunker down and hope for the best. They've got to anticipate the future and prepare for it.
The same is true about communities. The mayor, private business people and economic development leaders must work hard to keep and attract every good job possible.
They've got a great advantage because Lexington and Central Kentucky have wonderful location, landscape, climate and access to transportation.
But those advantages aren't enough in this competitive world. Hundreds of studies have shown that a community that attracts both employers and the workers they want must also offer great quality of life and world-class education.
On the most basic levels, that means our streets, our water must be safe and our schools are open for business. But beyond that, it means we've got to have a vibrant downtown, flourishing neighborhoods, a lively and diverse arts and entertainment scene, an education system whose graduates are ready to enter the world and employers are eager to hire.
We've got to protect and leverage our historic neighborhoods and our world-class landscape.
Money is short; local government, like everyone else, must squeeze every penny. The temptation is great to hunker down, to decide that only the basics are worth the investment until the economy improves.
But that strategy will never give Lexington the kind of diverse, durable economy in which the talented professionals losing their jobs at Lexmark can stay here and find new careers.
Communities, like companies, must invest in the future to be ready for it.