By: Steve Trubilla
This is the first in a series of articles I am going to offer that speaks to economic development. Not in the state or nationally but right here in Franklin Country. In fairness to all of those currently involved in this and in recognition of work they have done I want to say while much of what I offer may appear to be critical it is not meant to reflect on anyone personally. I understand it is easier to be a critic than it is to stand in the arena. My intent is to energize the discourse pro-actively.
In very simple terms on an individual level economic development is one’s ability to pay their bills and to be able to prosper, not having to live pay check to pay check. The reality for many here is they are not prospering, the future does not look promising, and most that do have jobs, by the latest statics shows 63.3%, are working outside of Franklin County. Another reality is young people are leaving the area to find jobs.
This begs the question, why? Tens of millions dollars have been spent over many years to address this and a significant percentage of the annual budget continues to be spent on it. North Carolina is among the most attractive states in the country for businesses large and small, yet we still stagnate.
I believe in part I have the answer as to why this is occurring. It is a matter of attitude and focus. Most of the people involved with the process are in fact prospering. They have very good paying comfortable and secure jobs with benefits, or are otherwise very financially secure. I am sure they worked hard to get there and deserved what they have. They have attained their goals, or at least most of them.
A Ugandan friend of mine shared the following with me. “Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up, it knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn't matter whether you're the lion or a gazelle-when the sun comes up, you'd better be running.” I think many people have become too comfortable, in fact from what I have seen I feel they have become complacent. To support what I am saying consider this. In January, March, April, and June of the year the Franklin County Economic Development Committee did not even hold their monthly meetings, they were cancelled. Information found on County website. Having taken an interest mainly because I simply meet so many people that are struggling I decided to attend the July meeting. It was held on the 11th in the Wake Electric building in Youngsville at 8am. I sat quietly and observed. I encourage others to start attending these meetings. For the most part Roberts Rules for meetings were adhered to. There was an election of officers, more detailed and shocking information on this in my next column. There were no questions about the previous meeting and with the exception of pointed questions by Larry Woodlief about a Company denied a Zip-Line business…... To be continued, stay tuned. I left the meeting feeling “no one is running”.