While no one yet knows if Windspires will be cost-effective or practical enough to rival the electricity produced by America's existing power plants, Holcomb and Hess -- two men with a vision and impenetrable spirit -- believe that, like Henry Ford's Model T, you need to start somewhere if you want to go anywhere at all.
"You've got to be willing to say, 'We have this technology, let's change it, let's adapt it, let's do something new with it," Holcomb told ABC News.
In these tough times, reinvention is not limited to Manistee; as the industries that have driven America's economy since the early 1900s wither, flexibility and innovation are taking hold in the Mississippi Delta among cotton farmers.
Cotton -- the proverbial "cash crop" -- has supplied the South with much of its wealth and prosperity since before the Civil War. And Greenwood, Miss., once known as the cotton capital of the world, is losing its luster.
In the recession, the demand for new clothing has plummeted, which has caused the price of u.S. cotton to decline. And many textile mills have moved overseas in the last two decades to such places as China and India, where it's cheaper to grow, pick and process cotton. This has left farmers like Ricky Belk, who has cultivated cotton in the Mississippi Delta for nearly 30 years, with difficult choices.
"I don't think there's any doubt that we can't compete with them on the playing field ... because they're still growing cotton and we aren't," he said.
Turning away from what was his trade, Belk has replaced thousands of acres of cotton fields with corn and soy beans. His cotton farming equipment now stands idle, because recession or not, people are still eating.
Following suit, the Pillow family -- fifth generation cotton farmers -- is not planting any cotton this year.
"Like the car dealerships, if you're not selling the cars, I mean that's kind of where we are. ...The farm has got to be viable and we have to be able to be here the next year for our families," Reese Pillow told ABC News.
"I think everybody wants to grow cotton. You know we're cotton farmers. We're cotton farmers growing corn and beans," said Belk.
For farmers in the South who are adapting to new economic realities, and so too for Holcomb's manufacturing workers in the North, who are harnessing wind power, reinvention and innovation are proving to be signs of strength.
"I challenge every other manufacturer in this country to think the same way. I think if you give our workers the right tools and you give them the right attitude, they'll outwork, out compete anyone on a world market stage."