In yet another production of tone deaf economic development activity, Bob Heuts and Tommy Mann convened the quarterly joint City-Town-County-EDC meeting on economic development last night at the McSwain Center. Excuse me for saying this but, it was a waste of effort. Sadly, it appeared the Sanford City Council knew it would be thus, since the Council didn’t even muster a quorum for the presentation. (Appears they already knew what the Town of Broadway and the County Commissioners were about to find out.)
The one thing everyone learned last night was that you can tell the EDC to communicate what they are doing, but you can’t make them communicate what they are doing. Bob Heuts is going to do what he thinks is best and appropriate, and no elected official is going to change that (at least, not until after the next BOC election in 2012).
No written reports were handed out. Mann mumbled something about Bill Tatum and economic development (would that not be an oxymoron?). Heuts spent less than 10 minutes rapidly repeating the recent history of illegal tax rebates we have been paying to large companies locally, two or three of which we haven’t actually paid because the companies haven’t decided yet to take us up on our offers. And then he turned the floor over to a lady from Sanford Holshouser who charmed the crowd with a dry, academic presentation on something we do not do well at all– retaining and expanding local businesses (particularly small businesses). In the end, Heuts met the requirement (from the county’s feebly worded contract with the EDC) to render a report. I guess that’s what it was.
Perhaps the tone deaf county commissioners noticed just how out of pitch they were last night…or not. In the end, precious little was communicated and the county is still on track to perform at the same, languishing pace we’ve been at for years on the economic development front. (Say, has anyone ever noticed that the unemployment rate for Sanford and Lee County ALWAYS runs a point or two higher than all of our surounding counties? As far back as I can research we are always running behind our neighbors. Can you say, time for a change?)