Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Guest Opinion - Stegall on Jobs

Mike Stegall on Jobs

Every politician this time of year starts telling us what they are going to do for us (or to us in some cases) if elected.  It is part and parcel to the election process.  It is always the same, too.  Lower taxes, cut in government spending, more this, more that, and last but not least, jobs.  All politicians know that jobs are what drive our economy, and without them, they cannot give some of our money back to us.  They realize that jobs create tax money, and tax money allows them to spend it the way they think we want.  Not necessarily spent wisely, but spent none the less.

Every politician has a plan for government to create jobs as they constantly tell us daily.  “We need to do this, we need to do that” and blah, blah, blah.  I am by definition now a politician, although I prefer the term “elected official”. (Politicians tell you what you want to hear; elected officials tell you what they think.)  I am, however, no different than politicians in that I, too, have a plan for jobs in Darke County. 
First, let me start by telling you a “dirty little secret” politicians don’t like people to know:  Government cannot create jobs!  The only jobs it can create are government jobs.  If you think about it, we get no goods or services from government that adds to our economy.  Government produces no products or services; it spends the money we give it to give us the services it provides back to us!  So, what can government do to help the job market?  The answer is simple but difficult for most politicians to do: Get out of the way and make it easier for businesses to operate.
I have no illusions about the job situation in Darke County.  It is bad, bouncing around 10 and 11 percent unemployment.  I do believe, though, at the local level there are things we can do to help.  I am proud to say that I see some progress in Darke County.  We now have an economic development Director, Mark Saluk, who should be the focal point for businesses in the County. I believe that Mark should speak for all of Darke County when he talks to businesses already here and new business looking to settle here.  The Darke County Chamber of Commerce, headed by Sharon Deshambeau, is a key part of this plan, as is the Versailles Chamber and all the Community Improvement Corporations (C. I. C’s).  Although the Chambers, C. I. C.’s and the Economic Development Director do have different jobs to perform, they should work as a team to enhance the business climate in the county. 
I have talked to these people, and do believe we are on the right track.  The best part is these people do care.  I believe that if a company comes to Darke County and, after looking around, decides it wants to do business in Ansonia, then we should do everything possible to put it there!  That may mean that other communities might have to swallow hard and help Ansonia, or whatever community, get the business.  Don’t undermine each other.  All the behind-the-scene and backroom deals only allow the company to get a better deal for it, not all of us. If one town or village or city wins, we all win.  Let’s do everything possible to help Darke County, not the individual company. 
I also believe we can surely streamline some of our processes for businesses.  Believe it or not, red tape can be cut; we just have to be willing to do it.  Permit applications/acceptance, inspections, and other government requirements can be reduced without loss of protection or revenue for our County.
I also believe that we do not want every company out there to come here.  We want good employers, ones who realize that they also have a stake in the future of the County. I do not want a company that will only come here if we “sell the farm” to get it here. That kind of company will only leave after it has gotten all it can from the County.  We don’t want or need companies like that.
During the primary, one of my opponents said he wanted to be a “friend” of business.  That is fine, but I prefer to be a “partner” with business.  Sometimes when we are “friends” we may overlook what our “friend” is doing, and that may not be in the best interests of all.  If we are “partners”, we both now have a shared interest in the success of the business, and the County. 
Darke County has many assets, as I have stated before: plentiful resources, land, business parks, and a willing and able workforce.  We, in government, just need to help it along, reduce the red tape, and let the people now in place do their job.

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