May 13, 2014
Continuing the week-before-the-primary-election discussion of the priority planks in my platform, let’s look at the first E: Economy.
It’s easy to remember the five priority areas. Just think of the chorus to Old MacDonald. E I E I O. Those letters stand for economy, image, education, infrastructure and open government.
I put Economy as the first plank because it doesn’t matter what county services you consider to be necessary, they can’t be provided unless there is revenue to pay for them. And I feel confident that most of us not only want services provided, such as good roads without potholes, snow removal, schools, emergency services, and the like, but we want those services to be provided at a level of excellence. A faltering economy makes it hard to attain and maintain excellence, particularly when the costs of labor and material go up. Rising costs need to be offset by rising revenues. The only way for revenues to rise without a tax increase is to add to the tax base. That’s where a vigorous economy comes in.
A strong economy can help us address another issue that I believe is of high importance. I call that issue our “slow heir leak.”
The “slow heir leak” is the loss of our young people who move away to find good jobs because the jobs are not available here. The number of available jobs seems to dwindle each year. Our schools provide a good education, but many of our young people take their education and their families and their ideas and their energy and their future income away from here. Other communities and counties benefit from what our young people acquired here. We absolutely need the energy and the fresh ideas that we lose when our sons and daughters have to move away to find the jobs they want and need. And another thing we miss is the proximity of our sons and daughters and grandchildren and great-grandchildren if they move away. That leaves empty places in our hearts.
We must have an economy that can replace the jobs we have lost over the years with jobs that pay enough to entice our children and grandchildren to keep their ideas and their energy and their homes here in Ballard County.
Some folks and some candidates talk about attracting more tourists. But it’s not just the tourists we want; what we need is the money that tourists can leave behind. Right now, most of the out-of-towners who drive through Ballard County may wave at us as they go by, and they may stop at the cross at Wickliffe, but we really don’t have businesses that will benefit from their money. I don’t think that “tourists” without something to tour are the answer. They want good lodging and good restaurants. Without such places, we don’t get their dollars, we just get their smiles and their exhaust fumes. We need more places like the Wickliffe Mounds that charge admission and sell souvenirs.
I can’t promise to bring jobs to Ballard County or to establish businesses that will attract tourists. What I can do is make sure we have the right conditions and the right attitudes to attract interest in companies that might locate here; to encourage companies that are here already and want to grow; and to make it clear that we want to retain our small businesses that may be content with the market share they already have. I can provide the necessary leadership. I promise that I won’t set on my rear and hope someone walks in with an interest in locating here. I will have a sound plan to help achieve economic growth.