Patos de Minas always had a direct relation to agriculture. It emerged out of an agricultural interest in the region, and grew because of agricultural prosperity. Traditional Brazilian agricultural products like coffee, sugarcane, soy, wheat and corn have been produced on a large scale in all the region.
Nowadays the local economy is still quite dependent on the agricultural income. This is directly visible in city growth numbers and through the production of architectural and culture in the city. In periods of prosperity the city council has money available for the construction and maintenance of the patrimonial heritage, social and cultural services, and the organization of celebrations for the community.
Through time several periods of prosperity are to be recognized. The first period comes up with the mass-exportation of coffee from Brazil, and ends with the global economical crisis in the 1930’s. Under the influence of Governor Olegário Maciel the city knows it’s first phase of urbanization with the construction of several public schools, the forum and the regional hospital. Also most of the neo-colonial houses and buildings at the Presidente Vargas avenue date from that period.
The second period of growth initiates with the construction of the new capital Brasília. Since all building materials had to be transported towards the building site over long distances, cities like Uberlândia (and in a lesser extent Patos de Minas) grew because of the overnight stay of the truck drivers. Many hotels and businesses providing building materials emerged in the period 1950-60.
The inauguration of Brasília announced a period of stagnation and dis-animation. A new capital meant lots of new jobs, resulting in a drastic drop of inhabitants since many were moving in search of glory and richness. Leaving behind a city without any prospect. The result: the rise of favela’s near the riverbanks and degradation of existing neighbourhoods.
A period of industrialization, starting halfway the 70’s brought new perspective and hope to Patos de Minas. The construction of several interstate highway, the discovery of gigantic phosphate reservoir in the region, the establishment of a large seed factory in the city and mass plantations of newly bred corn caused a major growth in population and income.
Around 1995 the growth of Patos de Minas stagnated again, as a result of the global economic recession. The result reflects directly in the urban space as we see it nowadays: a bad state of maintenance and no improvement or new initiatives during a long period.
Since a few years the economy is reinforced with new hope. The city is growing, prospects are good, and slowly some money is being made available for (small) investments in public space and cultural installations in the city. The people in the city are positive towards the future and see and point out the need for investments in the quality of life. Almost every single inhabitants I spoke to was enthusiastic about my plans, and they didn’t seem unrealistic at all to them. It seems I just got the luck to be at the right time at the right place.