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  • | 5:00 a.m. February 17, 2011
  • Palm Coast Observer
  • Opinion
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+ Chamber: Thank you, government officials
Dear Editor,
On behalf of the Flagler County Chamber of Commerce & Affiliates, I would like to extend congratulations to our local elected officials. Their recent action to expedite and establish a date for the Economic Development Summit is crucial toward advancing Flagler County economic development.

The chamber is dedicated to its mission and vision, which is to help the business community thrive and act as its recognized voice. Flagler County’s current economic climate has adversely impacted our working community, our residential community, our children and our retirees. These impacts are costs that we all bear, and we are all victims of an economic imbalance that cannot be sustained long term.

As an organization, the chamber offers its support during, and leading up to, the Economic Development Summit. We will provide input on behalf of the business community and support the development, implementation and successful execution of a strong economic development plan. This requires collaboration from all government entities and stakeholders, and the chamber will work alongside all parties to streamline this effort.

Officials are working to address this urgent community issue. We appreciate their initiative and look forward to a productive dialogue at the upcoming Economic Development Summit. Flagler County is at a crossroads. Continued collaboration is the catalyst that will drive our momentum.

Lea A. Stokes
Chairman of the Board
Flagler County Chamber of Commerce & Affiliates

+ Economic development on the wrong track
Dear Editor:
In Flagler County it is often said our problem is the high unemployment rate. Bringing in a company that makes widgets may not dent the number of unemployed one bit if we have no (trained) widget makers in our county.

To date I have not seen anyone define who are the unemployed of Flagler County. Forget the percentage. How many individuals are actually seeking work in our county? What was their last job? What skills and/or experiences do they possess?

If we define who the unemployed are, we could then look at efforts to reemploy or retrain those persons. We could also work to create the conditions for employers to come here who have needs for persons with those skills or experience.

But, realism rises up from the depths again. Across the nation, most communities are hurting. Bigger cities have more numbers of unemployed with a greater variety of skill sets, more underutilized facilities, etc. Do our officials really believe we can compete for a major manufacturing facility to move to Flagler County? Pipe dream!

Merle Haggard sings, “I am what I am”; John Netts, the mayor of the city of Palm Coast, aptly paraphrased that saying, “We are what we are.” Let us understand what we are, let us define the needs of our unemployed, and let us focus on fixing our problem as best we can.

The economic development mania has enveloped us like a fog rolling in from a misty sea. It has never before enveloped our newspaper pages, editorials, letters to the editor or the calendars of our county and city officials to such an extent.

Over the last month, a storm has been boiling up. The economic elite wants more money to foster new growth that will recharge its coffers. Everything the elite proposes requires more taxes on those already hurting. The elite does not understand the resistance!

The mating dance going on between the business elites (lawyers, bankers, high-end merchants, developers, Realtors and large land owners) and the elected and paid officials of our county rolls over the borders of hilarity.

The local governments got together to see if they could agree on some plan. They found out their disparity was so great the fall back was to reconvene a month later with a facilitator. Now that is insipid. They have not even defined the objective.

A facilitator will not define the objectives or the options. The role will be to keep civility from walking the plank and becoming shark bait. End result: Nothing is accomplished. But no one will admit that. We are not an industrial community, and we will not become one.

Volusia County, and likely most every city and county in the United States, is running down the same path. Volusia was inventive enough to hire the disgraced former president of Daytona State College to run its economic development efforts. No laughter in the back row.

We have a beautiful county; we have amenities, climate, good schools and friendly people. When the rest of the nation heals, the influx of new homeowners will resume (hopefully at a sane pace and not another bubble), and business that supports that population will revitalize.

The future is promising. We need not go sprinkling money around on ill-advised schemes for an economic development model that does not recognize that we are who we are.

Skipper Hanzel
Palm Coast

Editor’s Note: From the Center for Business Excellence:

“The civilian force labor in Flagler County was 34,461, with 5,105 members of that labor force unemployed and currently seeking employment.

“Over the past year, the greatest losses respectively were in the areas of construction, financial activities, information, manufacturing, government and professional and business services.”


+ Sign of a job well done
Dear Editor:
You must be doing something right. I just spent 15 minutes blow-drying the Feb. 10 edition of the Palm Coast Observer after it got wet in the rain.

Keep up the good work.

Don Groundwater
Palm Coast



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