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Scoring The 1st Danville City Council Forum (Part #4)

We’re going to make it to the halftime break in this article. Part #1, Part #2 & Part #3 have already been published, so you can catch up and refresh yourself on the scoring system. Let’s roll.

After three questions, here’s where they stand!

That scoreboard is to be expected because the incumbents have done the forum type of event before, and it’s the challengers’ first one (except for Thomas Motley, but he’s been penalized for things like making up statistics). We’ll move on with…

Question #4 (asked by Robert Benson): We know that City Council can not micromanage the city government, but what would you do as a city council member to promote the growth of small businesses with the citizens of Danville?

We’re going right to left, starting with Thomas Motley.

  • Thomas Motley: City Council waits for the community to come to them to find where the resources are. (Huh? I won’t hit the mute button quite yet.) Invest in our children, invest in minority enterprise zones. (Motley’s magic word. MUTE) Change will not happen overnight (+2). Danville will not reach its full potential until we leave no community behind.
  • Sheila Baynes: Has promoted small businesses in her campaign. Explored downtown during a lunch hour and found businesses that she never knew about. (+3) Her promotion got the business some new customers. (+3) Shows that awareness is key for small businesses. (+2)
  • Trina McLaughlin: City Council should start holding local town halls. (+3) This panel has self-proclaimed small businessmen (Didn’t need that “self-proclaimed” shot. MUTE) who can go to small businesses and give the tools that small businesses need to succeed. (+2) As a city council member, we can go out and partner with small businesses. (No. Government can’t pick and choose the businesses to support. No mute button, but it was close.) Give the business owners free advertising on the local government TV channel (Sigh. No. Unless you do it for all you can’t do it for some. That plan is also unfair competition with other advertising sources.) (Trina’s trying with these things, but hasn’t thought through the logistics. She’s totally sincere, so no mute button again.)
  • Philip Haley: Believes in supporting small businesses. (+2) Anybody can start a business today, but who is the customer? (+3) We need small, medium and large businesses. (+3) Without Goodyear, where would Danville be? (+2) 100-200 job businesses should be a focus, as they support small business development themselves. (+2)
  • Jim Lindley: Always looks for locally-owned businesses on travel, best service is found there. (+3) Cut red tape, zoning issues, barriers to develop growth. (+3) Incentives to small businesses that can be paid back over time (Ehhh. I wanted to hit the mute button because the city isn’t a bank, then I realized that the IDA is doing that right now, so it’s a +3) Discounted utility rates for startup businesses. (Danville Utilities could do much better with their commercial deposit policy, but a rate class shouldn’t never have exceptions like that. MUTE)
  • Larry Campbell: We do have things already in place for that like The Launch Place. (+2) Economic Development has assisted many small businesses already. (+3) Personally helped the new fish market coming on Spring St. (+3) Longwood’s center at DCC helps with business plans, and business plans are required for success. (+3)
  • Robin Dabney: City Council’s responsibility is to fund Economic Development for this purpose. (+3) Need to help with training employees. (Nope. That’s for places like RCATT, which is a part of DCC where Dabney works.) Provide resources for startup and sustainability (+2). City Council needs to get out into the community to help provide training. (No. She flip-flopped on her first sentence that was 100% correct.) (Dabney went back on track with this question. On the last question, I counted 13 “Uh”s in her reply. Zero this time.) (+1)
  • Lee Vogler: MegaPark is finally in progress. (+2) Has helped small businesses (+2), Bro Pete’s, Brewed Awakening, 2 Witches as examples (+2) Proposed Tourism Zone idea and it was enacted (+3).
  • Sherman Saunders: The days of landing hundreds of jobs at one time are gone. (+2) City must continue to have policies that are small-business friendly. (+2) Excellent economic development staff already in place. (+3) Promote the Dan River Business Development Center (Hell yes. +3 and a bonus +1 for that.) Workforce development remains a key. (+2)
  • Madison Whittle: Incubator program in progress. (+3) Underfunding is a problem. (+3) Can tell when a business is going to make it or fail. (+2) Short-term lease to start to test things out. (+2) 5 to 15 job businesses are the ones to key the economy. (+3) (Whittle lights the scoreboard up when he talks about small businesses because of his experience.)

And the horn sounds for halftime. Let’s look at the scoreboard and see where we are.

Incumbents still at the top as expected because they have a better knowledge of the topics so far. The challengers are looking mostly good too. Robin Dabney cooled herself down during the last question and gave a very good answer. She needed that regaining of her composure. Come on, Thomas Motley! You don’t have to focus every answer on “minorities”.

Four questions down, four to go. I just did a word count on all four articles and we’re over 4000 combined. You won’t get this detailed coverage anywhere else besides SouthsideCentral, and we’re proud of that. Plus, we’re having fun with the whole process.

The second half is coming up after we all take a much-needed break.

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