Businesses should support eco-devo fundraising plan.
The nagging issue of inadequate financial support for economic development continues to plague the Finney County Economic Development Corp. and county as a whole.
For years, the organization has been hindered by insufficient funding needed to recruit and retain industrial and manufacturing firms.
The FCEDC relies on public dollars from Garden City, Finney County, Holcomb and Garden City Community College, and for 2013 will plan on working with an overall budget of $325,700.
But with a dwindling cash balance — and limited local government funds budgeted for economic development being consumed by various new ventures — the FCEDC board knows the community must build up funds to offer the kind of incentives business prospects expect.
One viable option being considered would be in a mixed public-private funding model that would mirror a successful program in Pueblo, Colo. Local businesses would be encouraged to financially support economic development efforts, and in turn be part of FCEDC-related initiatives and decision-making.
That makes sense. Local businesses should support and be involved in efforts to bring in jobs as a way to stimulate the local economy. It's worth noting that the FCEDC focuses on industrial and manufacturing companies and their higher-wage jobs — something in short supply locally.
A public-private partnership also would spur the kind of business community buy-in needed to better position the FCEDC for another run at a sales-tax plan to further fund economic development strategies.
Pueblo depends on a half-cent sales tax to create cash for various economic development initiatives that must be approved by the Pueblo City Council. A comparable approach here would erase doubt over allowing nonelected FCEDC officials to make decisions with those tax dollars, a concern cited when two recent sales-tax pitches were rejected by local voters.
Finney County has missed out on good business prospects because other communities had more to offer. Considering competition in this region and beyond, this community cannot shortchange economic development if it hopes to remain strong and viable.
The FCEDC should go ahead with a pitch to enlist local businesses, and those firms should be prepared to sign on and help Finney County grow.