Special thanks to the City of Abilene for NOT spending megabucks on its three-year economic development plan.
We don’t need Diane Lupke & Associates to tell us what we already know.
The No. 1 thing desperately needed to boost the economy of the Abilene area TODAY is rain.
That should be the top priority of every economic plan list in Kansas.
“Partner with Mother Nature and God to conduct comprehensive proactive weather patterns and expansion of said services for key area employers.” (That is, keep those college kids employed all summer mowing lawns.)
Here’s a line from a city’s economic plan I found online:
“Utilize the Community Development Authority and/or investigate creating a new public/private venture to catalyze basic sector employer creation within key physical priority areas.”
The committee that came up with that line probably doesn’t know what that actually means.
Let’s ask Dr. Phil. He could do a two hour program just on “key physical priority areas.”
And, I somewhat disagree with that statement.
While we all want new businesses in retail, agriculture and manufacturing, the No. 2 thing to help the economy in this area TOMORROW is to keep the businesses and jobs we have now.
The best economic environment is a steady growth which would grow the retail, agriculture, manufacturing, and tourism industries that are presently in place which, in turn, could create as many new jobs as a new business.
When City Manager David Dillner presented the plan last week, there was only one comment from the audience. As that person pointed out, the Aug. 1 date set for the second business summit was also the day of the Abilene parade.
Thus, for section 3 b. of the published draft:
“Chamber - Create a community calendar for businesses and organizations to share information on upcoming events.” A new date will be forthcoming.
Here are the four main points of the first draft.
1. Retain existing businesses and promote organic business growth within the community.
2. Recruit and grow new businesses.
3. Promote residential development in Abilene.
4. Collaborate with business partners to develop and grow events that draw visitors to the community.
Members of our current business community might argue growing new businesses should not be second on the list.
Bringing in a worldwide box store would provide competition for every retail business in the Abilene area and might not be the best thing for this community.
Ten years down the road, there may not be a community: just a lot of empty buildings after that box store sucked it dry and moved on to the next town, taking all of its jobs with it.
And, as our retail community needs to understand, the competition isn’t just the box store: it’s online retailers. “Can’t beat ‘em. Join ‘em,” might be a line item in the next economic develop draft three years from now.
Since not one individual or community leader made a comment on the first draft of the Abilene Economic Development plan, here I go. (Did you think I would come this far without angering some readers?)
First, Dillner and Tim Hamilton did an excellent job.
It was every bit as professional as that prepared by Diane Lupke & Associates.
Here’s a comment, not so much a criticism. The plan calls:
1. for the Abilene Area Chamber of Commerce to take action in at least a dozen areas;
2. on the Dickinson County Commission to take action in a couple areas;
3. for providing schools to provide quality education;
4. for the promotion of residential development in Abilene but doesn’t really list who is in charge of that line item.
5. on the promotion of Abilene’s tourist industry and there are 15 tourist-related entities listed on the city’s web page.
Let’s face it! We don’t all get along that well.
Having every person in every organization in Abilene on the same wavelength with the same motives is a tall order, yet, that will be the key to success or failure of the plan.