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Cartwright, Carol Lohry; Shaffer, Scott; Waller, Randal / City on the Rock River : chapters in Janesville's history

4. Industry,   pp. 58-94

Page 58

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As shown on a portion of a 1877 bird's eye view, Janesville's early industries were built along the
Rock River and the rail corridors. Industry has always played an important role in the economic
history of the city: The first settlers came to the Janesvilie area because they were looking for a
waterpower site for grist and saw mills. It was the successful exploitation of this waterpower that
resulted in Janesville's emergence as a regional industrial center by 1900. During the twentieth
century, the city's industries became more diversified, centering on the production of consumer
goods. Industry also became centralized among several large manufacturers, including an
automobile assembly plant and a pen manufacturing company. In the late twentieth century,
reliance on a few major industries has declined, and Janesville has returned to a widely diverse
industrial base with many small and medium-sized manufacturing and service industries.
Regardless of their type and size, it is clear that since the earliest days, the industries of Janesville
have been responsible for much of the city's economic growth and development.

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