Monday, June 10, 2013

EDITORIAL >> Contrasting two cities

What’s wrong with this picture?

Jacksonville has worked for almost three years with a bona-fide, professional economic developer consultant with a multi-million-dollar resume.

Sherwood has worked about a year with a Cabot woman who has minimal experience.
So Jacksonville should have the upper hand, right?

In those three years, Jacksonville has gained a Firehouse Subs restaurant, a new flea market and ground has been broken for a Kroger gas station and a state-of-the art sport-shooting facility. But the consultant was only involved in the restaurant and may have had a part in the Kroger gas station, but the store is not investing any money in modernizing or sprucing up its store — and does the city really need another gas station.

In the past year, one has closed and at least two have changed hands — no one locally is getting rich off gasoline. And next week the city is losing Hastings, which will give the city a big hole in its downtown strip.

We hear a major retailer could move into Jacksonville, which would be welcome news. But so far, nothing is certain.

Meanwhile, the inexperienced Cabot woman, in a year’s time, has taken the credit for bringing into or helping bring into Sherwood a large aircraft cabinet company and Buffalo Wild Wings. On the Border, another national chain restaurant, is opening in the fall, and word is a third one is about to be locked into a contract.

Granted, Sherwood seems to have more highway property available then Jacksonville, but more should be happening in the city.

Now, Jacksonville Mayor Gary Fletcher is an honorable and truthful man, and he has said there are a number of great things in the works for the city, and more than likely it’s true, but the proof is in the final product.

Jacksonville does have the new public-safety building that most of the state is in awe about, and by fall will have the shooting facility open, but neither of those came about because of the experienced economic developer.

So, perhaps the expert consultant should have lunch in September with the inexperienced woman at On the Border and discuss strategy.

So, it’s back to the question — what’s wrong with this picture?