It comes as no surprise that Mayor Deb Piana is committed to economic development and downtown revitalization, as she spoke to those themes often throughout her campaign.
It also comes as no surprise that a recent survey conducted by the Chamber of Commerce indicated that beautification and a greater base of retail stores were identified most consistently by residents as immediate needs if this community hopes to grow and enjoy some level of financial stability.
We all want to live in a prettier town, and who wouldn’t be excited to enjoy greater consumer freedom without having to leave town?
That’s a pretty easy bandwagon to jump on, but there are those among us who may be tempted to scoff at “yet another” push for economic development because such efforts have fallen short before. We have to admit that we have our own reservations, but we are glad civic and business leaders are embracing another shot at something that has seemed just beyond our grasp for all too long.
After all, the only thing that guarantees our failure when it comes to economic development is a failure to try, and we honestly believe we can guarantee some level of success if we get serious about something the mayor was only half joking about— building a wall to prevent dollar flight from our community.
The success of this fledgling economic development effort will rely far more on you than it will on the people leading it. Any endeavor large enough to deliver a meaningful impact requires resources to succeed, and the war chest for this battle is generated almost exclusively by you— the local shopper.
Businesses can only make improvements if they generate enough revenue to re-invest in their business. They can only commit money to civic improvements if they make enough money to do so, and local governments can only invest in such projects when local sales generate enough tax dollars to fund them.
We know that it is unrealistic to expect anybody to commit to spending 100 percent of their dollars in town, and it wouldn’t be very healthy for the regional economy if we all chose to isolate ourselves in that way. We are asking that you give this effort a chance, however, by making a real and measured commitment to spending a greater percentage of your dollars locally than you ever have before.
Build your own wall, and make it as high and thick as you’re comfortable with— but make sure you build it. A dedication to doing business here is more valuable than any donation you can make to civic improvements projects because long-term economic development can only succeed if we are truly committed to our own economy.