Regions and Economies

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This video program features two case studies on the United States: Oregon: A Fight for Water and U.S. Midwest: Spatial Innovations.

The first case study, Oregon: A Fight for Water, looks at agricultural production in the regional transition zone from the lush West Coast of Oregon to the state's more arid landscapes on the east. Technology has enabled residents of eastern Oregon to harness scarce water resources to support agricultural production, but at an environmental cost. Farmers there rely upon the Columbia River for irrigation for their fields and for transportation of their products, thirty percent of which is shipped across the Pacific to Asia. A local Native American tribe is demanding that the diversion of the river be limited in order to revive the dwindling salmon runs that rely on the Columbia and its tributaries to spawn.

New material for this case include new maps and video footage updating the status of the water dispute and salmon population, and further analysis of the differences between the West Coast and the interior of the state.

U.S. Midwest: Spatial Innovations focuses on the geographic distribution of Japanese auto plants throughout the Midwestern United States and explores the spatial nature of Japanese just-in-time production techniques. Key reasons for Japan's decision to locate in this region are proximity to the majority of U.S. consumers and the sophistication of the Midwest's transportation infrastructure. The case study also explores the U.S. automotive industry, its history of competition with Japan, and its gradual incorporation of Japanese production methods to meet the high standards set by its competitor. Competition and cooperation among industries and nationalities have led to new levels of productivity and quality in this U.S. region.

Updates to this case include a rich variety of archival footage, new discussion of the impact of just-in-time production, an examination of future trends in automobile manufacturing, as well as further interviews with geographer Dr. James Rubenstein who was featured in the original case study.

Find additional resources, including primary source materials, interactives, and downloadable print materials, at:

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