Spencer’s Project. The mighty Spencer’s Project. Our city is on solid financial ground. That is a fact! HOWEVER, if we continue down the current road with this project and other issues we will place our city at risk. Risk that is not to be taken lightly. Taxpayer dollars are just that, the taxpayers’ dollars. The city board does not “own” your money. Economic development projects are vital and will continue to be vital for small towns across America, not just Mount Airy. We must use wise judgement and we must utilize all the tools at our disposable when making decisions that have such an impact financially, positively OR negatively. There are MANY sources that assist small towns with economic development that do not cost a city ONE DIME!
The Spencer’s Project will have to be dealt with no matter who is elected. There will have to be closure to this project. Will everyone agree on the final “product”? NO! Sooooo….this is a tough spot to be in. In my opinion, this is a mess that must be carefully cleaned up. We must move forward. Do I know exactly what I would do if it was totally up to me? NO, I don’t. I am not so bold to make some bold claim on the next steps concerning the Spencer’s Project. I CAN TELL YOU THIS….I AM NOT FOR THROWING GOOD MONEY AFTER BAD! I will vote to complete whatever obligations that we are bound to (contractually) and scrutinize every decision that we are not….before making a snap decision. I will look for win-win solutions that will benefit the majority of citizens. PLAIN AND SIMPLE.
Business and Industry. We must be proactive and not reactionary concerning our businesses and industries. If I am elected, I will hold multiple forums/focus groups with business leaders and industry leaders. I will find out what will motivate them to remain in our city and what we can do to make it more attractive to expand. I will explore the concerns of large and small business within our city, not just the downtown area.
What can be done from the government side to assist business and industry? To be honest, maybe nothing. Business and industries leaving small towns could be the nature of small towns across our nation. HOWEVER, we owe it to our citizens to, AT THE MINIMUM, to investigate, explore, and discuss what the City of Mount Airy can do for local business and industry. The issue of industry recruitment is not just a city of Mount Airy issue. This is a county wide issue that involves ALL of the municipalities. The world has changed. We must broaden our thought processes and team together to attract business and industry to our area, not just Mount Airy.
Tourism. I grew up in a tourist town, Blowing Rock, NC. I spent 7 years working for the Parks and Recreation department in that small town. Our population would explode during the summer and, back then, the winter was VERY QUIET. Not like now, if you visit Blowing Rock anytime of the year, it is busy. Our tourism was from our natural location within the mountains of northwest NC. Absolutely beautiful area, with cool summers, skiing during the winter, and amazing colors in the fall. Blowing Rock invested heavily in recreation and made sure the town kept its small-town charm. It still has that charm today.
Mount Airy has SOME of those same qualities. I think many folks look at tourism as a negative for Mount Airy. The Andy Griffith/Mayberry “train” will eventually leave the station. However, the work that has been done to shift this town from an old mill town to a town that people want to visit has been amazing. I am not suggesting we forget our heritage…don’t forget those hard-working mill workers that made Mount Airy a textile giant. I don’t write all this to debate why conditions have changed in our country, but they have, and they have changed here. Change isn’t always easy for people.
For Mount Airy to prosper in the years ahead we MUST combine all our efforts when focusing on economic opportunities for our city. Tourism, business, and industry are ALL important. I would argue all three are woven among each other. Industry wants to attract talented people, talented people want a high quality of life and amenities where they live, businesses thrive when those talented people spend money at businesses. Amenities and features of a town that attractive visitors (tourism) also make people want to become part of our community.
Losing one of three makes it difficult to move a small town forward. We are fortunate that Mount Airy has its own charm. People WANT to visit here. PEOPLE are attracted to our town.
Governmental Operational Expenses. This is one is easy and simple to me. We ABSOLUTELY do not spend MORE than we take in. Simple. Just like home. We all have expenses we must pay for to be safe and healthy. Our city tax dollars are no different. I am not naïve and I realize that there are complexities of tax revenues, obligations, economic development, and infrastructure requirements. I am not trying to over simplify anything, but I do know this….if you spend MORE than you TAKE IN…there will be a problem at some point! One of my strengths is budget planning and forecasting. I am such a nerd; I actually LOVE dealing with numbers and budgets.
Capital Improvement Plan. I attended a capital improvement plan meeting a few weeks ago to observe. The meeting mainly covered the process of the capital improvement plan and the “state of the union” about the city. The planning document that exists sure did get some folks fired up. I understand their concern due to the spending patterns of the city in recent years. I don’t understand the concern about having a capital improvement plan AS A GUIDE and tool to identify current and potential capital items that will be needed in the future. The city has a history of “pay as you go” and I would be an advocate of continuing that practice. That is one reason the city is in such good, sound financial shape….currently!
Moving Forward. Outside looking in, one might think our wonderful town is a boatload of issues. There are plenty to deal with, for sure. No different than any other town or city. Being a council person is no easy task. Someone will disagree with you. Even if you make every attempt to do the right thing, someone is most likely, not going to be happy. One of my strengths is to search for common ground, a win-win outcome. I do not get emotionally attached to an issue, project, or idea. I have dealt with success and failure in business. I know what it feels like to succeed and I know what it feels like to struggle. One MUST make decisions with a business mind-set, not an emotional one. I am not heartless, but when you are dealing with millions of taxpayer dollars you need to keep a level head and do what serves the majority of citizens.
Opioid Crisis. I have purposefully left this issue off the list. I will address this issue in a seperate post. The opioid crisis has the potential to be the most pressing issue for this town, county, state, and our country. All these issues our city faces could have its own blog post dedicated to it.
Primary if Tuesday, October 8th!