Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Show Me The Money

 It has been said that our EDC needs to build up reserves  to offer cash as a way of attracting industry to town. That companies will point blank ask how much cash our EDC is willing to offer. If we don't have enough, we are out of serious consideration. 

Is that even a good way to conduct business? Do we really want a business that is just looking for a hand out?

A reason some do not want to go 4B is that all the money could be siphoned off for a quality of life project(s) and we would have no money to attract manufacturing or industrial business(es).  Sounds to me like some companies are asking our board to give them everything we have, which would in turn affect future projects. 

But wouldn't the same thinking that keeps our 4A board from draining all the money, be the same rational thinking that would keep a 4B board from doing the same thing?

We are trusting 5 people (the number of members required for a 4A EDC board) but won't trust a 7 member 4B Board (the number of members required for a 4B EDC board)? 

That line of thinking just doesn't add up to me. 

I believe having 7 people being good stewards over money is better than 5. Fourteen eyes looking over money, better than 10.  I guess I'm crazy.

Anyway back to building up reserves...

I'll play along with that thinking.  We need to have money in the bank to give a company a blank check apparently.  But answer me this, what towns are you generally competing against when you try to attract industry? I have looked at some nearby towns with 4A EDCs to see how we stack up.

Fiscal year 2012 budgets:
Sulphur Springs - Cash Reserves: $2.5 Million; Annual Sales Tax Revenue: $1.5 Million
Greenville - Cash Reserves: $1.5 Million; Annual Sales Tax Revenue: $500,000
Mt. Pleasant - Cash Reserves: $2.4 Million; Annual Sales Tax Revenue: $1.1 Million
Paris - Cash Reserves: $1.5 Million; Annual Sales Tax Revenue: $1.2 Million
Wylie - Cash Reserves: $1.3 Million; Annual Sales Tax Revenue: $1.6 Million
Rockwall - Cash Reserves: $18 Million; Annual Sales Tax Revenue: $4 Million
McKinney - Cash Reserves: $12 Million; Annual Sales Tax Revenue: $8.8Million

Commerce - Cash Reserves: $1.6 Million; Annual Sales Tax Revenue: $400,000

According to statements and posts, our EDC has been showing businesses the money and they have been choosing to go elsewhere.

Greenville, with similar reserves and revenues, announced in August that it was able to attract 2 businesses that will create over 300 jobs. (Fritz Industries and International Grains and Cereal LLC).

What no one can answer is how much money is needed.  Some say we must have more and yet we  see our neighbor to the west was able to attract 300 jobs with less.  

Friday, September 20, 2013

Mene, Mene Commerce

Here's Your Sign(s)

Sorry I feel this way, but in looking around, the question needs to be asked...

Is Commerce slowly dying?

According to the newsletter on the School District's website:
Enrollment down 68 students or roughly 4%

Last year the enrollment was down 3% 

Other Signs:

Half of the downtown buildings are vacant

Census population in 1970: 9534
Census population in 2010: 8078

City property tax rate increased almost 40% in 10 years 

Multiple churches have closed

Individuals below Poverty Level in 2000: 22.9%
Individuals below Poverty Level in 2010: 32.1%

Home Ownership Rate: 37.3%; State Average 64.5%

Zurn Closed (200+ jobs lost)
Covidien Closing (losing 300+ jobs)

And possibly the #1 reason Commerce: APATHY. 

Is the writing on the wall? 
Is the better question: What can be done?

But then again, why should I care!?!

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Double Entendre

It has been said that there needs to be a plan for Commerce to guide us to get to where we want to be.  That we also need to do a survey to see the desires of the community.

The City did a plan in 2009 and a survey (I think in 2010) performed by the University in conjunction with the "Big 6" that unfortunately I no longer have a copy of.  Why doesn't someone dust it off, post the survey results on line and lets accomplish those objectives.

An article in the CommerceJournal from June 1, 2009 laid out that plan.

I'm working on the third set of goals in the plan.

So... Is the future so bright that I've got to wear shades or are they rose colored glasses?

For those enquiring minds, the picture is the double entendre.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

What happened to Norman?

I get the feeling that somewhere along the line average became okay.

Is it okay to be average? Sure, if that is what you want.

For me, I want and expect more. I guess, I'm still wanting to live a Norman Rockwell life or at least want that for Evan.

Maybe that's too simple.

Or is the simple thing to do: sit back, turn a blind eye, blend in.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

You've Got Mail

I have said it before and we all know it to be true: Watch peoples actions, not what they say.

I unfortunately was reminded of this again recently about a number of different "leaders" in Commerce.

Well, for those "leaders" who don't know the law, if you haven't already you are about to get a phone call ...
Your emails (yes, even those from your personal and work email accounts) are subject to open records requests.

If you discuss any form of city business and someone requests access to them, you are required by law to provide them.

Think you are safe if you delete them? Tampering with government documents is a crime!

That email that mentions any form of city business is an official document and deleting it is against the law.  Plus we all know that skilled computer people can recover deleted messages.

Why did I make an open records request of documents from the City of Commerce and Economic Development Board this morning? To keep them honest and accountable. 

More stories to come...