I sat on my patio early this morning with only a cup of coffee and the sounds of the birds for background music. It was as life should be.
My mind wondered - as it is prone to do - on a virtual potpourri of items and issues. Among those was how to attract jobs to our community. I believe that promoting our community and attracting business falls to all of us not just to those who do that sort of thing as a profession. And just then, a harebrained idea surfaced somewhere between the second and third cup of coffee. Maybe it was caffeine overload. But here it is.
I am convinced there are two major elements facing our community - or any other community for that matter. First is the ongoing battle to eliminate the criminal element, the scum landlords and the culture of neglect that we've faced for years now. And the second element - just as important - is to attract jobs to bring newcomers and provide our children with opportunities here.
What if all of the service clubs and organizations - Jaycees, Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions, Elks, Eagles and others - devoted a full year of their efforts and budgets to helping bring jobs to our community. Now granted, it is not the purpose of these organizations to venture into the area of economic development. But what if these dynamic groups were to devote just one year of concentrated effort to help our city attract business and jobs?
The members of these organizations include the business leaders of our community. Their resources in manpower and finances are substantial. These organizations give thousands and thousands of dollars each year to some very worthwhile projects in our community. So what if for just one year these groups devoted those finances and their enthusiasm to bringing jobs here? That is not to diminish the needs that these groups fund such as the hospital, the CP Center and so many others. But our future depends on employing our population and attracting new residents with quality jobs.
Instead of relying on just one economic developer, what if we all became volunteer developers with our personal contacts and the resources that these groups can harness? Truth is, it's not as harebrained an idea as you might imagine.
Sikeston has ample sources of pride and attraction for new business. We have extremely low utility rates, a great transportation network, a central location and a pretty darned good quality of life. But hundreds of other communities can boast similar benefits. So the competition for jobs is substantial. But if all of these groups banded together and combined their thinking and their resources, I believe we might just have the upper hand.
If we sit back and wait for that next major employer to come our way, we may be waiting for a very long time. But if we had a thousand volunteer developers with resources, excitement and unity, I firmly believe we could have an impact.