• 43°

Residents deserve more than promises

Thanks to the hard work of local, state and national officials, the area stands to gain more than $3 million in Empowerment Zone funding for the upcoming fiscal year.

Monday, October 18, 1999

Thanks to the hard work of local, state and national officials, the area stands to gain more than $3 million in Empowerment Zone funding for the upcoming fiscal year.

And, although local officials have expressed disappointment that our area did not receive the maximum amount of $10 million, they also have said it is definitely better than nothing. About this, they are correct.

Since the federal grant first was awarded to Ironton and Huntington, W.Va., residents have heard a lot of different project possibilities and a lot of promises. They’ve seen the announcements in the media concerning which projects, such as paving and other infrastructural improvements, are being made possible by the grant.

But, with the end of the first fiscal year of Empowerment Zone funding about to come to a close, what the residents still have not seen is a noticeable job increase.

Bringing industry into the area is no small task – if it were, Lawrence County residents would all have well-paying, stable jobs and there would be no issue.

Unfortunately, the facts are very different. There are county residents who cannot find work, who worry about how to feed and clothe their children and about whether or not they will still have a place to live when the rent comes due.

And, there are residents who have watched cherished family members pack up their belongings and leave the area for greener pastures –  cities where jobs are plentiful.

Although bringing in solid industry can’t happen overnight, things would look a whole lot brighter if we all had more reason to hope.

County officials in whom we have entrusted our future – and the future of our children – should be more forthcoming with information on the progress of bringing jobs and industry into the county.

Instead of telling us only about the preparations being made to support industry once it gets here, perhaps these officials should let us know exactly what they are doing to recruit those jobs. Sound bites, rhetoric and refusal to comment publicly not only is an unfair way to treat the residents, it’s just poor policy.

As residents, community members, tax payers and families, we deserve to know what the future holds. For all our sakes.