Voters can make a differencePublished 9:21am Tuesday, October 29, 2013
This past week has been a busy week for our many supportive development organizations and government entities.
The deal has closed and earth is moving on a long awaited Holiday Inn Express and Suites Hotel, and Frisch’s Restaurant that hopefully will soon be etched into the community’s landscape.
One might ask, why now? It has been talked about for years and most locals agree that such a hotel is critically needed within the community.
Having worked with the government, public, and private development team that finally made this deal happen, I would like to share some of my thoughts as to why now?
First, a site was needed. As we all know, in our part of the state affordable sites are not easy to come by, and are often expensive to purchase and/or develop.
Secondly, and most critical to any deal is who pays for these facilities’ construction and operations? Being the first hotel in the community and having no measuring stick of need or usage, how do you convince investors, lenders, and franchises that the project will be successful if built?
Our ability to point out specific needs for a facility resulting from many community events made possible through our hard working community organizations, along with business and government needs, the needs by visitors to our local attractions like the Wayne forest, along with regular traffic traveling through our community gave us at least a second look.
However, it was the actual digging into the pocket books of all of our development organizations and several community minded investors that convinced those critical franchises, outside investors, and the lending institutions that the community will make this project a success.
However, there is a third critical, and probably most often overlooked factor that I heard. It is that the community and its residents are investing in itself. It was often cited to me from many of the critical partners of this project coming from outside the community that the community is progressive as evidenced with people visiting town for events, attending the weekly concerts, farmers market, the floral designs, pocket parks, skate board parks, community gardens, the new Park Avenue signals, bridge construction, RoNa improvements, etc. etc.
These are the many things that we locals, myself often included, enjoy and take for granted. From an outsider perspective, what other southern Ohio community of our size can raise funding and is investing and have these quality of life benefits.
I am sure we can all come up with a list of 101 things that we would like to see for our community, but just as in our household budgets, we are quickly jerked back to reality as to what can we afford.
To have and to continue to enjoy these facilities, we have to make sure that we can afford to maintain and operate them. We can then continue to invest in our wish list from the additional revenues that we gain from our past investments such as the hotel and restaurant.
Please take note, coming up soon at our next local election in November, there is a ballot issue for a recreation levy for the City of Ironton.
This ballot issue is not asking for more money, but rather to keep in place the current levy so we can maintain and operate our past investments.
The levy failed to get enough votes the last time it was on the ballot. Was it because the community does not want nor is it willing to support a basic recreation program and protect its past investments?
I don’t think so.
Rather, I think we all get busy, and when it comes to Election Day, we say there is really not that much on the ballot and my vote doesn’t really make that much of a difference.
Get enough of those “really not making a difference” and as we have witnessed from the past election, it does become a difference.
Perhaps just as that one person on the street with a warm smile and a positive community attitude speaking to a stranger who may be looking to make a major investment in our community, your one vote can make a difference.
Ralph Kline is the assistant executive director of development and planning for the Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization.