When she buys something, a good friend of mine always subscribes to the following philosophy — “when you pay for quality, you only cry once.”
In other words, you get what you pay for. If you purchase junk, you regret it a thousand times over. That’s generally true. Not always, but usually.
I’ve heard it said, if you want good a sermon, you’ve got to pay the preacher.
In that same vein, if you want good economic development and industrial recruitment efforts … well, you know the rest. You get my drift.
I was elected to the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors last year. After pouring over budgets, a sobering reality hit me. We don’t put enough resources toward our economic development and industrial recruitment efforts in this area. Truthfully, we probably haven’t for a long time.
When I say “area” I’m speaking of the city of Corbin, Knox and Whitley Counties. Right now, altogether, our local governments give a total of $35,000 a year toward economic development. That’s it.
That’s the sum total of our taxpayer-funded contribution.
I think that’s pitiful.
Consider. Something so important as jobs and our economic future gets just about 1.5 percent what was spent in the city of Corbin’s Police Department last year.
It wasn’t always that way.
When the city of had its Off Track Betting Parlor, there was some more money. It dwindled over the years when pari-mutuel wagering started to go down. Off Track Betting closed and that money eventually dried up altogether.
I hear talk all the time about the ineffectiveness of our job recruitment and economy-building efforts here, so I know it’s an important issue to people. We sure don’t fund it as though it is important, though. We don’t put our money where our mouths are. We need more money, less mouth.
Personality conflicts and political squabbles aside, how can you honestly have a decent economic development effort when it is funded so anemically?
I don’t think you can.
We need to step up to the plate.
I realize our county and city leaders constantly have to make tough decisions when budget time rolls around. Everything is important. All aspects of government deserve to be funded well.
I get that. But I don’t think we are ever going to have a real shot at luring and growing the kind of businesses and fostering the business environment we really want until we stop nibbling at the edges and start really putting some resources toward this idea.