After the last week of rants concerning some roadblocks a group in the local Farmington area were trying to put up for Big River Telephone moving to the area I have to give a thanks to the Farmington Press and Daily Journal newspapers.
Last week I discussed my feelings on the topic on both my radio show and then made a post on my blog, typically I do not talk local government or topics on here but in this case I felt it important to use whatever voice I had to help.
Last week MyMoInfo.com posted a news story with excerpts from my show concerning Big River Telephone and this week the Farmington Press and Daily Journal reprinted my blog post. I appreciate them taking the space (a full page outside of the ads) to print my opinion on the topic.
Big River Telephone President, Kevin Cantwell, presents his plan in a city council meeting this evening and will lay out the plans for development of the building they are looking to acquire and what jobs (and economic development) it will bring to the area. Should be interesting, I am sure the opposition will be there but the very large majority can see the value in helping bring quality jobs to the area and see the BIGGER picture in what development of technology related jobs can do to an area such as this.
Although the majority of my blog posts are not focused on local Farmington, MO news or stories I could not help but to do a post about a local story that is frustrating beyond belief.
For a few of my thoughts on this topic that were discussed on my LocalTek Tech Tips radio show this morning you can read Local Tek Owner Supports Big River Telephone.
Recently the government awarded Big River Telephone a chunk of the rural broadband stimulus funds based on the ability of the company to rapidly deploy a stable and reliable wireless broadband network that will provide thousands of people throughout Southeast Missouri with the ability to connect to the internet in the same way most of us take for granted, at broadband speeds.
In todays world it is virtually a requirement to have access to high speed internet if a community wants to be able to compete in the business world today, or if a student wants to have access to the same information other students across the US and the world have.
Although I tend to lean to the conservative side when it comes to taxation and stimulus I can see the benefits and the value in programs such as this when done correctly. I accept that the money is going to be spent and it needs to be used on quality programs that create quality, lasting jobs, that provide other benefits for the long term, such as education and economic development. In this case the rural broadband stimulus does that.
Now, for the frustrating part. As part of the award of the funds to Big River Telephone it had been discussed they would locate Big River Broadband, the arm of the company deploying the network, in Farmington, MO which is a rural, but very progressive business community in Southeast Missouri.
In an area such as this it is difficult in many cases for individuals coming out of college to be able to stay local because there are not many professional level technology jobs in the community. This means that there is a drain on the community based on the educated and skilled labor leaving for large cities for higher paying, professional or technical jobs that do not exist locally.
I cannot go a month (or a week) without hearing people talk about the lack of the ability to find a good job or hearing people complain about jobs going overseas or to Mexico for manufacturing. With the economy being what it is small communities need to do everything they can to find high paying, quality jobs that are long lasting in their community.
With most jobs that locate to these regions being low paying jobs that can be moved overseas easily (i.e. call centers, manufacturing) shouldn’t a community fight to get these jobs to their area at every chance they have?
Virtually every community in the area Big River Telephone will be serving has fought for these jobs to be located in their community.
The City of Farmington, once learning of the potential of Big River Broadband to locate in the area, offered incentives for the company to be able to relocate to an unused building in the downtown area.
The TIF amount are rumored to be in the $100,000 range. That is a $100,000 incentive to create millions of dollars of economic development in direct money to be spent by new jobs in the company. That does not include the associated businesses and non-direct impact of long term value to a community having a solid tech company that is growing in the area.
Typically you bring one and more come, also what people sometimes overlook is that this will empower people that once never thought they would have an opportunity to create something to possibly have an idea sparked after being around the atmosphere that a company like this brings.
So, why then, would people complain? Is it just to complain for the sake of being heard? In the community there have been a few folks that have caused a hold up and concern for the many people looking for these jobs because they are complaining about the incentive.
Keep in mind these people complaining are people who are in positions to not have to worry about such things but their lack of foresight and their lack of ability to look at the bigger opportunity this creates has the potential to drive these jobs elsewhere. And they WILL GO ELSEWHERE, they will not disappear. Would this group prefer these jobs go to another community that WILL give something to get this.
Big River Telephone is not some huge corporate conglomerate so people cannot complain about big business getting all the breaks, I have known the team at Big River since they acquired a small phone company in Cape Girardeau and have worked day and night to create what the company has become today.
If the money is going to be spent to provide stimulus I have to look past my feelings on such things and realize the money is going somewhere, the stimulus money will be spent, I want it to better the community I am in and not go elsewhere because people are not thinking about the long term impact but just trying to make a stand for the sake of being heard.
The moral of the story here, no matter if you are in my local area or not, if someone is working hard to keep jobs local, keep your kids from moving away since they do not have the opportunity locally, and are trying to have a long term positive economic impact on your area support them. Do not EVER complain about jobs going overseas if you are not going to support keeping jobs in your community.
I never had the opportunity to stay in the community I live in based on the fact there was not a professional level job that offered the opportunity to do what I wanted to do or an income potential that went with it. I had to travel over 100 thousand miles a year on planes to have that opportunity. I have a son that will be in college in the short term future, he may want to move away but I also like the thought of supporting companies that want to create jobs that can create opportunity for him locally as well.
Thanks for letting me rant!