A view of downtown Sioux Falls and the Sioux Falls State Park.
A view of downtown Sioux Falls and the Sioux Falls State Park. - 
Listen To The Story

You can’t understand the real American economy unless you spend time outside Wall Street or Washington. And that’s exactly what The Atlantic’s Jim Fallows and his wife Deb are doing, in partnership with Marketplace.

Fallows says traveling to these small towns, and getting out of Washington D.C. where he lives, completely changes his understanding of the economy.

“If you were entirely cut off from the national economic news of showdown paralysis and things falling apart, you could feel that things were actually quite healthy in a lot of America.”

The cities he’s traveled to -- Holland, Mich., Burlington, Vt., Sioux Falls, S.D. -- have found ways to reach markets in far flung countries and to attract global talent.  

But there is a trade-off  for success, says Fallows: “The success of a place like Sioux Falls in South Dakota has been predicated in the draining out of a lot of the surrounding Prairie areas.”

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

Follow Kai Ryssdal at @kairyssdal