After an unplanned SouthsideCentral hiatus, I’m not sure where to start…
You know, it sounds like a good idea. Let’s get a bunch of high-caliber people into a one-day conference and figure out how to attract businesses. What’s wrong with that? I’ll take that one. Instead of more blah-blah-blah talk, how about a little action and results instead?
I’m not fighting or denouncing the (soon to be dearly departed) Jeremy Stratton on his last 2 years worth of work. Danville’s “China Strategy” seems to be working. But besides that? We’ve had Job Bust after Job Bust after Job Bust. SouthsideCentral wishes Jeremy Stratton well in his new endeavor but in the Economic Development business, you either are a big dealmaker or you’re out the door.
At least Danville’s got an economic development office. It could be as bad as Pittsylvania County, where the idiotic and dysfunctional Board of Supervisors wiped theirs off the map by the firing of Ken Bowman. A few weeks ago, Jerry Hagerman (one of the members) said he wasn’t ready to hire a new economic development director, as he’d prefer to see what the county staff could do with the job. The answer to that is “Diddly-Squat”. Jerry Hagerman is an idiot for thinking that way.
Let’s get back to the summit. Jeremy Stratton was there on Wednesday and his resignation was announced at the lovely “send out bad news late in the day so nobody picks up on it” time of 4:40PM on Thursday. From the photos I saw, it sure looked like Stratton wasn’t a man ready to quit his job yesterday. Maybe he’s got a future in Hollywood as an actor. I just don’t get it.
One of my favorite parts of the R&B article was the remarks of Linwood Wright (yes, I spelled his name correctly unlike the R&B)…
There are also perception problems, with young people feeling the city does not have enough good-paying jobs or entertainment options, and a population that has developed a negative attitude about the city.
Lynwood Wright, with the city’s economic development department, said the negativity is extremely frustrating, since economic development prospects generally don’t say why they are in Danville as they are scouting around and chatting to with residents.
“If you can’t say something good about the city, why would they think it’s a place to bring their business,” Wright said.
I’ll answer that one. Linwood Wright is old, white and rich. That only meets one of Danville’s attributes with that one being “old”. What’s Danville got for the rest of the people that’s not old, white and rich? Occasional weekend festivals… and even they turn out to be as racially segregated as Sunday morning at 11 AM. Why do you think that very few high school graduates return to Danville after college? There’s not much for them to do in Danville and there are no good-paying jobs like in metropolitan areas.
Let’s look at a list of young people that have stayed or returned to Danville to “make a difference”.
- Lee Vogler
- Bryant Hood
That’s it. Danville has a number of “young professionals” but I can’t think of any that have rolled up their sleeves and actually done something with/for the community. If I’m wrong, let me know in the comments.
If you want real professionals who know what it takes to get real economic development going in this area, it’s time to make a fresh start and hire somebody like Jeff Reed (no matter what the cost is). He used to work in Danville’s economic development office and knows what’s happening. the other person that would do wonders would be Laurie Moran, the president of the Danville-Pittsylvania Chamber of Commerce. Yes, I know she doesn’t have the time for a job like this but she’d be my dream on how to showcase the area to potential businesses. If Danville was able to land those two, things would happen quite fast.
So that happened… Anyway, I have no idea if anything was actually accomplished at this “summit”. We’ll know if lessons were learned by seeing what results come out in the new 12 months. This has been a long rant and it veered off-topic a bit, but hey, it’s my first article in over a month. I’ll do better, I swear.