Does anyone know if Portsmouth actually has an economic development plan? I’m involved with three cities in central Kentucky with very strong development activities going on right now. One, a very rural small town just had two major announcements this week bringing in two companies and an expansion of a third. They have all of their industrial space currently filled and are looking to find more. They actually had a job fair on Tuesday to help fill openings for these companies.
One of the other towns currently has an unemployment rate well below the national average and managed their resources well. In studying their labor force and future growth they realized they are very relient on big industrial companies where a lot of the employees live outside the area and travel in. So these people aren’t paying property taxes, or shopping at local establishments. This town is doing an economic development program to enhance local business, encourage buy local campaigns, and looking at how they can help the existing small businesses grow.
Portsmouth’s biggest obstacle to growth, is the very people who need to be helping it grow. The people running the government are at a loss when it comes to this, they are incapable of thinking creatively, they do not inspire confidence, and the constant bickering and clownish governing are not at all inviting to companies looking for a place to expand. But I’m not so sure most of the people in Portsmouth care, if they did they would demand better from their leaders.
Sturgill: Sell the Marting’s building or level itby Frank Lewis Portsmouth Daily Times03.14.12 – 10:53 am
Sixth Ward Portsmouth City Councilman Steve Sturgill did not mince words when he talked about his ideas about what to do with the Marting’s building at Monday’s Portsmouth City Council meeting. Sturgill issued a public appeal to the Marting’s Foundation.
“I respectfully request that a Marting’s Foundation representative contact the Mayor as soon as possible to discuss the final plans to end this 10 year soap opera with the Marting’s property,” Sturgill said. “Since Portsmouth owns the building, and two times the voters have decided they don’t want to spend anymore money on this property. As far as I’m concerned the voters have spoken. However, I want to get my two cents in on the plan. The city needs to contract a realtor, and if the realtor can not sell that property in a six-month period, I would recommend the Marting’s Foundation agree to use remaining funds from the purchase to level and develop that property after that six months is over. That development may include a parking lot or design a nice green space in the middle of downtown that one day may be suitable for downtown economic development. If there are funds that remain after this is completed, I would hope the Marting’s Foundation would assist the city with future economic development in the downtown area.”
Sturgill said the Marting’s building controversy is one that won’t go away until the city can move forward with a plan.
First Ward Portsmouth City Councilman Kevin Johnson said he is not scrapping a plan to sell the Marting’s building, despite a recent event in which a deal with a non-profit fell through after a discussion about the group possibly purchasing the building and leasing back space to the city. Johnson was clear he is continuing to pursue a deal even without a current bidder.
“I’m following up with some financial people to follow through on the concept, so we can see in dollars and cents what it can turn out to be,” Johnson said. “I know this is a mental exercise, and I know when it was presented we were saying we don’t know if this will work or not. I would still be anxious to see if it would have.”
Johnson said the Marting’s building should be considered along with any other suggestions the building committee would come up with. Johnson was on a similar committee before becoming a member of City Council, working to come up with options, only to see the suggestions come to nought.
Portsmouth Mayor David Malone said there had been some confusion as to what the goals of the building committee are, and he is currently looking to fill two slots on the committee – slots created when two members resigned two weeks ago at the height of the controversy over the discussions about the building being made public. One of those members, Mistie Spicer did not resign because of the controversy, while the chairman, Alan Barlow, did.
“I have been working to make contacts and get commitments,” Malone said. “As of this time we haven’t had any. But we’re still working on that for the March 21 date when the next meeting is scheduled.”
Malone said the mission hasn’t changed.
“We just have to re-commission a couple of individuals,” Malone said.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232, or at firstname.lastname@example.org© portsmouth-dailytimes.com 2012