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In Ohio primary, campaign hinges on NAFTA

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"It's clear that both senators have learned the Sherrod Brown playbook," says Professor Hill, referring to the Ohio senator who was elected in 2006 largely on the basis of an antitrade platform.

Hill says Ohio's economic woes are due to far more complex causes than globalization or a trade agreement, but the general hatred of NAFTA in the state makes it an easy target for politicians.

Here in Dayton, where some 15,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost over the past five years, the effects of globalization are seen in sharp relief. It's not all negative. The changes have forced certain businesses to shift their focus, become better managed, and target new sorts of value-added manufacturing.

Better business through free trade

Globalization "made us make better business decisions," says Dave Dysinger, whose family-owned tooling and machining company in Dayton almost went out of business at the end of the 1990s, dropping from 116 people down to 12, until he shifted away from the traditional commodity-based clients and local markets he used to serve.

Today, his company employs 42 people, is thriving, and designs tools for more specialized energy, agricultural, and appliance companies around the country.

Still, Mr. Dysinger acknowledges that the transition was painful. And for the thousands of people who lost good-paying union jobs as large factories such as Delphi shut their doors to move overseas, it's hard to see anything positive in a more global marketplace.

"The Dayton area is a classic example of what's happening in the changes in the world economy," says Joe Tuss, the Montgomery County economic development director, noting that the city hung on to traditional manufacturing jobs longer than many places in the state. "We're at the end of the line in Ohio in terms of production jobs."

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