Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Coody Wants Economic Development Strategy

Fayetteville Mayor Dan Coody says that the city needs to take time to develop an economic development strategy. As he begins his eighth year in office, he knows what hasn't worked, and he should be commended for making this a priority now. It is encouraging that he wants the City Council to institutionalize his sustainability initiatives, which could be one approach to expanding the city's revenue base.

For the last few years, the city has paid employee
Ray Boudreaux to be the Chamber's faithful errand boy and to attend meetings and take notes about economic development, but he has also been required to spend half time as the valet for corporate jet owners at Drake Field. It looks like that has been a waste of money, but at best you could say results have been hard to measure and there has been no damage done. That's about it.

Fred Hanna, Fayetteville's last Republican mayor, the city forked over $100,000 a year to the Chamber of Cowbirds with no strings attached to do economic development. That arrangement ended after city revenues nosedived when the Chamber endorsed moving all commercial airlines to XNA, causing Fayetteville the loss of its public airport and a considerable number of high paying jobs. That proved to be a total disaster.

Coody called for an end to the city's dependence on outside special interests, such as the Fayetteville
Chamber of Cowbirds. "I hope they can help us as much as they can, but the city needs a strategy that's compatible with Fayetteville's perspective," he said. The mayor also recognized that our elected representatives on the City Council don't seem to have much "trust or faith" in the Chamber or the Fayetteville Economic Development Council. No wonder.

Sounding again like the man we thought we were electing in 2000, Mayor Coody called for a unique approach to community and economic development and said
, "I hope the council sees how important that is. If our economic development strategy is built on the foundation of sustainability, it makes the more long-term [goals] compatible with the philosophy of our city." Amen to that.

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