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Sunday, Apr. 20, 2014
We're so close but yet so far awayPosted Friday, August 8, 2008, at 2:58 PM
For a long time now a lot of folks around Greene County have been preaching, advocating, endorsing and working diligently with the idea that this large county needs to finally come together as one cohesive community family.
We need a community working toward the goal of making this a better place to live, work, raise our families and have those family members stay here and raise their families for many generations.
Our future depends on it.
More jobs and economic growth are crucial.
We need our existing local businesses to prosper so they can stay here and not get caught up in the exodus to the foreign lands of cheaper labor.
We are small and rural with no city or town even approaching 10,000 in population.
So we must join with our neighbors and work to maintain the businesses that we have and recruit new places for people to work.
We are a county community of less than 35,000 people that needs to work together.
Some strides have been made with the HomeTown Competitiveness grant project, the establishment of the Citizen's Academy, the Greene County Chamber Coalition, the work of the Greene County Foundation and the efforts of the Greene County Economic Development Corporation.
But every time I think we are making some progress, something happens to discourage me.
Such was the case this past week when the Bloomfield Town Council, by being silent with no motion made, let a $1,000 request for annual financial support in the 2009 budget from the Greene County Economic Development Corporation die.
Other councils have done the same thing in the last two budget cycles.
The Worthington Town Council voted down a similar measure in March for $2,232 as part of the 2008 budget.
And, Switz City also didn't take action on the GCEDCs' 2008 request for less than $467.
The GCEDC didn't ask for a lot of money in the big scheme of things.
The 2008 GCEDC budget amounted to about $187,000 and includes funding from the Greene County Council, and revenues from various fundraising events as well as private, corporate and municipal contributions.
Last year, GCEDC Executive Director Joan Bethell, who's been on the job since March 1, 2007, sent invoices totaling $20,476.50 to the incorporated municipalities for support based on a formula of $1.50 per person. The cities of Linton and Jasonville forked out the largest share -- more than $12,000.
There's been talk by some town council members about "double-dipping" if they give any more money because the GCEDC already received $120,000 in the 2008 budget for contract services from the Greene County Council.
Half of that money did come from the General Fund -- which is for the most part property tax money.
But the other $60,000 was derived from a portion of the county's share of statewide casino gambling revenues that are distributed to counties in the state of Indiana that don't operate casinos or riverboat gambling establishments.
That's really not local tax money so double dipping would be a rather strong accusation.
The County Council as a group feels that it's a good investment to enhance the marketing value of the county to spur economic growth.
The GCEDC is the group doing that planning and marketing work on behalf of the county as a whole.
The GCEDC's 2007-08 Greene County Strategic Action Plan provides a pretty straight-forward assessment of what the future holds if we do nothing.
The county can either ignore the signs of economic distress and be consigned to a rural pattern being experienced across the nation -- that of further economic decline.
Or, the county can capitalize on the limited window of present-day real opportunities based on our greatest assets such as agricultural, the Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area, Naval Support Activity, the WestGate at Crane Technology Park, I-69 and other tourist attractions.
Look around if you don't believe me that things need to improve.
Walk up and down your downtown streets and the courthouse square.
What do you see?
Too many empty buildings and vacant lots is what I see -- places that once were the havens for brisk retail business activity.
Go ahead blame Wal-Mart or any of the other major department stores for the decline. But we have ourselves to blame in part also for not having a vision for the future.
We need to find a way to fix it or at least come up with a game plan that will re-energize us economically.
We do need to plan.
And, these things won't happen overnight.
Economic development takes time, patience and money. Our elected leaders need to realize that fact.
We need to forget about all this east of the river and west of the river mentality. The West Fork of the White River can't continue to be a dividing line in this county's growth and vision.
If one place in our county grows with new jobs we all benefit.
We need to forget about the selfish self-interests of our individual cities and towns and work together from the west to the east and from the north to the south.
The GCEDC deserves the support of all our elected officeholders.
Please give them the support they need to be the guiding light for this county's economic comeback.
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