County must cut expenses to invest in primary industry infrastructure
Hernando TodayThe popular hue and cry today is jobs, jobs, jobs. While that is surely a noble undertaking, it begs the question: Where do the jobs come from?
Published: February 20, 2010
Published: February 20, 2010
We know that we must diversify our economy and bring in wealth-creating primary business enterprises to sustain us in the future rather than be solely dependent on home construction and the service-oriented economy that we now have.
Primary industries are those that are located here and sell their goods and services mainly outside the county. The revenue they bring back to Hernando is used in paying wages and for investment and expansion within our borders. In short, they create wealth and opportunity for our community.
Looking backward can't change the past but it does provide insight as to where changes should be made. Hernando County, to its credit, did make some good decisions by making capital investments in developing the Airport Industrial Park, and those investments have returned big dividends to our community.
We should be preparing ourselves for a prosperous future by making more capital investments into the infrastructure required to attract those kinds of higher paying jobs and investment from primary industries.
Obviously, it is the long-term cure for our current economic woes. Therefore, it makes sense, even though these are difficult times, to first invest in our future by making those capital investments in our infrastructure recommended by our County Office of Business Development.
There is no scarcity of opinion on which strategies should be employed to accomplish the goal of bringing in or expanding primary industry here. However, it is clear it will take additional capital investment to attract and expand our primary industry tax base.
Additionally, a business-friendly culture at county government, including faster and more efficient permitting services, site-ready locations with infrastructure ready to be hooked up, incentives relating to payment of impact fees, etc. would help attract and keep primary industries here.
While looking across the country we find ourselves in competition with every other city, county and state that is trying the same thing. The current economic downturn and job loss has intensified the competition and brought greater pressure on those people responsible for expanding existing and recruiting new higher paying primary industries to their communities. Hernando is no different. No matter what the strategy is, a capital investment for the infrastructure is needed as a foundation to bring those primary businesses here.
We have some competitive strengths. One, in our opinion, is location. Florida, as a peninsula, has some drawbacks relating to distribution of goods, but there are some golden opportunities. Look to the south and the emerging markets in South America, Central America and the Caribbean Basin. We have in the Port of Tampa a world-class deep water port along with a great airport in TIA. In time we will also have a high-speed rail connection from Tampa to Orlando and beyond.
As we increase trade with these southern neighbors, new businesses will be created to interact with and service these businesses. South America is one of our biggest trade partners now, and free trade agreements are pending right now. Our global position puts us in a unique and strategic location to make this happen.
It makes sense to flesh out the potential of this idea and any others and develop some strategies. However, without the infrastructure investment to build the foundation, why bother?
To bring some more primary industry to Hernando County we must do the basics as outlined in the Hernando County Office of Business Development capital infrastructure plan now being considered by commissioners. It will not be an easy task, but the potential is huge. No idea will ever succeed if we continue down a road that starts with and leads to a very limited potential.
Our long-term plan to expand and bring in more primary industry will never be achieved if we don't start down a path to economic rebirth, and that rebirth begins with capital infrastructure investment.
Our county commission will be considering many paths to the future during these difficult economic times. They can choose to cut expenses so they have the needed capital to invest in our future or they can continue with a bloated operating budget and refuse to invest in our future.
To their credit, they have taken some expense reduction action. However, not nearly enough! Our taxpayer base cannot afford to do both; continue to fund an unnecessarily bloated budget and invest in the infrastructure needed to bring primary industry and a prosperous economic future.