Sunday, October 12, 2008

Coody's Imaginary Economic Plan

I am not the only one who had to laugh at a letter to the editor today in the Northwest Arkansas Times, in the same week that Athletic World Advertising closed down and left 125 former employees unpaid. One of Mayor Coody's apologists put forth one of the Coody campaign's big lies, claiming, "Industry was attracted to our area, largely through Dan's involvement in national organizations and his promotion of our fair city as a location for desirable, light industry." Just repeating that baloney doesn't make it so.

Name one industry that has located in Fayetteville as a direct result of Dan Coody flying all over the world on someone else's dime. Just one. Even Dan Coody has admitted that he hasn't had an economic development plan for the last eight years. As a last ditch desperate effort to save his reelection campaign, he pushed for a $150,000 consultant contract to come up with a plan, and he even screwed that up. By coincidence, the ethically questionable consultant will be here in Fayetteville, just three weeks before the election, asking local people what they think might work. Dan had eight years to listen to the citizens, but he was too busy traveling to conventions out of town.

Here's an example of what Hanover House experienced trying to build a world-class Media Center in Fayetteville, "in order to be located conveniently to our #1 customer, Wal-Mart in Bentonville. The facility will include a Motion Picture Soundstage, a set and props warehouse, and DVD fulfillment center and warehouse and administration buildings." That's exactly the kind of low-impact industry we need in our Industrial Park, but Dan and his clueless economic development sidekick Ray Boudreaux utterly failed to do anything right to land the business.

Hanover Media Center would have had a full-time annual payroll of over $2million, and a part-time contract-basis payroll of about $3-million. This was a high-tech business, with zero negative environmental impact, hiring top creative executives and very few low-wage level positions. After six months of frustration and getting the run around, CEO Eric Parkinson asked, "Why does the City of Fayetteville have 127 acres of land unsold in the Industrial Park, when you are adjacent to one of the fastest growing regions for business in North America? I now think I understand. ...I do not believe that Fayetteville is getting many of the 'better' projects or even your pro-rata share of the growth. ...Maybe I'm wrong, but if I'm right, and you lose this project to Bentonville, you may regret not taking the time for an informed and detailed discussion."

As we all know, Hanover Media Center did not locate in Fayetteville. That is only one example of Dan Coody's sorry record of failing to attract high-tech businesses and good jobs for our community. If Coody has been a dismal failure during good economic times, don't even think about how bad he would be with national financial markets in the tank and local developers in bankruptcy. We need new leadership.

It is time for a change.

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