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Generations of people came to the Midwest in hopes of finding a better life. But economic opportunity has been harder to find since the recession began, and people have left the region in record numbers in search of jobs or a better housing market. Changing Gears “Midwest Migration” project is collecting photos, stories, and voicemail messages from former Midwesterners – people who have left region since the recession of 2008.We’re mapping where people ended up, and we're sharing their stories about why they left and whether life is better for them now.We’ll also hear whether they plan to return to the Midwest.You can share your Midwest migration story here, and see responses on our Midwest Migration tumblr page.The Midwest Migration will run through mid-February 2012.

Michigan fare featured on California's Sunset Strip

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Alex Ozark
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Alex Ozark moved from his home in Detroit to Los Angeles after he ran into some roadblocks finding a job in the automotive industry in 2008.

Changing Gears' Midwest Migration” project is featuring the stories of former Midwesterners – people who have left region since the recession of 2008.

Name: Alex Ozark
Midwest Home: Detroit, MI
New Home: Los Angeles, CA

My parents moved from Michigan to Virginia in 2004 for work, while I stayed for college.

I graduated in 2008, when the economy was just turning down, and people were being let go at the Big 3. I had done 3 co-ops with suppliers in southeast Michigan and none of them offered me a position—very uncommon—due to the current state of the economy.

I’m almost positive that, had I been offered a job by my previous employers or with the Big 3, I would have taken it. But, again due to the market, there was very little available at the time I graduated. I had no choice but to move to VA with my parents.

I was so disgusted with the automotive market that I actually did not want to work in it. I started initially looking in defense in VA and CA. I happened upon my current job, as a Test Engineer at Proving Grounds, on pure luck.

The amount of people from MI in CA is staggering. There is now a place called Coney Dog LA on the Sunset strip that features straight-from-Michigan Coney dogs, Faygo, and Stroh’s.

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