Sikeston needs a few good jobs. But then again, the same can and is being said about virtually every other community in this country. So we're not alone. But there has been a growing chorus lately questioning why Sikeston has been unsuccessful in landing new jobs.
Well for the uninformed, let me assure you that our community is making major efforts toward attracting new jobs. We're spending time and money on a daily basis in contact with business and industry trying to sell them on the benefits on our community. But I fear too many people misunderstand the competition for jobs and thus judge our efforts as less than acceptable. Quite the contrary is true. We probably make a greater combined effort to attract jobs here than any other community in this region. I know that for fact.
The question was posed to me Friday on which comes first - attracting new jobs or cleaning up our image and removing some of the unwanted elements in our community. It's an interesting question. I suspect that some businesses balk at coming here because of the declining reputation we're experiencing. But at the same time, we need jobs to bring new working-class residents to Sikeston and perhaps edge out some of the nonworking, dependent criminal element that now calls Sikeston home.
I believe the answer is that we have to attack our problems on both fronts at the same time. We must attract jobs or encourage the expansion of jobs within businesses already located here. Yet at the same time, we must reinforce our effort to remove some of the unwanted element that has unfortunately arrived in our community.
A meeting held earlier this week with black leaders of Sikeston was an educational and sobering experience. Those black leaders spoke strongly of the need to weed out the newcomers who are bringing drugs and violence to Sikeston. The black leaders voiced growing concern over the young thugs who hold no respect for authority nor others' property. And what was surprising to me, the black leaders also voiced unanimous support for greater controls or a reduction in the subsidized housing market in Sikeston. It shouldn't really surprise me since these leaders are more directly impacted by the "bad" element than many of you reading this column.
But back to jobs. Don't think for a minute there is not a major effort in Sikeston directed at attracting new jobs. To think that way is wrong. I know personally of a dozen or more current efforts to "sell" Sikeston to those who would bring jobs to our community. The chorus of those who moan over the loss of jobs should be countered by those who recognize the effort to replace those jobs. To complain without a solution does a disservice to our town.
In the past two weeks I have had countless calls and comments from those who have awakened to the problems and potential of Sikeston. Standing in the wings are hundreds of Sikeston residents willing to do whatever is necessary to push our community forward. All they lack is a plan or a suggestion for their participation. I have promised to provide those suggestions and I will. But first, those actively working daily toward a solution must rank priorities and ask for help. These efforts are currently underway.
Soon I believe, we will have a plan of action unlike others of the past. I truly believe soon we will point a direction for the removal of the unwanted element of Sikeston combined with an effort to bring new blood to our community. And then those who want to assist will be given that chance.
In the meantime, instead of bemoaning our position, try offering a solution. At this point, I doubt if any solution will be ignored.