Publication Date

October 1982

Journal or Book Title

Journal of the American Planning Association


Between 1916 and 1941, Henry Ford embarked on an effort to decentralize the production facilities of the Ford Motor Company. One component of this effort was an experiment in which he located seventeen small factories, called Village Industries, in rural areas throughout southeastern Michigan. These factories were designed to utilize water power in the production of sub-assembly parts for Ford's main assembly plants and were intended to provide jobs for rural residents. Ford endeavored to develop a sense of "field and factory" in these plants by training rural workers in the latest technological advances, allowing them release time to farm their fields, and paying them "city" wages. The Ford experiment is important for, despite a significant body of literature calling for the decentralization of industry during this period, there were few efforts that were comprehensively implemented, few which included rural areas, and even fewer that were totally financed by the private sector.


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