Waiting For Change

The 1-cent coin, long derided as obsolete, has never been more threatened--yet America still won't let the penny drop

There is a 350,000-sq.-ft. Zinc plant a few miles outside Greeneville, Tenn., with a distinctive claim, but you wouldn't know it if you happened to pass by. Only the company's website offers a clue about its unique role in the U.S. economy: "Jarden Zinc Products manufacturing facilities and technically trained, experienced employees are the first choice of many countries, including the United States."

Since 1982, Jarden has been the U.S. government's exclusive supplier of penny blanks — the metal discs that become 1¢ coins. The relationship has been good for the company, which, since 2000, has recorded more than $800 million...

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