In search of a leader on development

I give the News Virginian hell often enough that it is only fair of me to give kudos to the paper when deserved, and it’s deserved in the matter of the call in a Wednesday editorial for somebody on Waynesboro City Council to step forward and take the lead on downtown.
I’ll take their call one step further to suggest that we need, desperately need, even, for somebody to come forward to be the point person on City Council on economic development citywide.

We’re sorely missing that right now, with the prevailing attitude seeming to be set by Vice Mayor Frank Lucente’s Herbert Hoover-like laissez-faire approach having the city get out of the way to let private entrepreneurs who obviously aren’t flocking to Waynesboro do whatever they’re not going to do.

The NV in its editorial pushed for Mayor Tim Williams to take the economic-development ball and run with it. It does seem appropriate to have the mayor playing that kind of role, and I’d back him wholeheartedly if he wanted to take it on. Same as I’d back Lorie Smith or Nancy Dowdy if they were to try to create for themselves a bully pulpit to push development in Waynesboro.

I’d even jump on the Lucente bandwagon if he’d steer it in the direction of having the city be an active player in the development game.

One thing that’s for sure is that the current strategy that has had us operating in the economic-development sphere without even an economic-development director on staff for going on a year now is not working and shouldn’t be expected to work in the future. That mindset is akin to staking your personal economic future to playing the lottery in hopes of taking home the big jackpot and then neglecting to even buy the ticket.

Yep, we’re a couple of biscuits short of breakfast as it is now, in a manner of speaking, and it’s only going to get worse before it gets better, because while we’re sitting our asses on our hands waiting for manna to fall from heaven, Staunton is out recruiting new business and industry and doing what it can to retain and grow its existing business and industry, and Charlottesville is doing the same, and Harrisonburg is doing the same, and you get the picture.

This is one thing conservatives and progressives and liberals should all be able to agree on. Economic development isn’t a partisan pursuit.

 

– Column by Chris Graham



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