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PODCAST: "American Futures" and the power of maps

Residents of Sioux Falls, S.D., say there are two seasons in the region: Winter and "construction season." And with the economy as strong as it is, new buildings, homes and other construction projects are going up all over town.

The halting pace of the economic recovery is all too apparent, despite glimmers of hope in housing and other sectors. But in some places, the recovery has ended and the economy is in expansion mode.

One of those places is Sioux Falls, S.D., a city which has more to do with the American and global economy than you might think. 

"This is the beginning of a trip we're going to be doing, going to smaller towns in America that have interesting economic stories, technologic stories, stories of demographic adjustment," says The Atlantic's Jim Fallows. "Parts of the American saga that are often left out of our normal news coverage."

The Interactive:
Explore the Story Map:
Read regular updates from James Fallows during his travels across the country. And explore related interactive maps. More

In addition to working with Fallows, we are partnering with the mapping software company Esri. And Esri CEO Jack Dangermond says the reason maps are so important today -- and in the future -- is the stories they can tell.

Finally, we hear from one of the voices in Sioux Falls that helped us get a grip on the changes the city has gone through. Sylvia Henkin, 92, moved to the city in 1944 -- and has seen it turn into a center for agriculture, credit cards and now health care.

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.
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