To the editor:
There has been a lot of discussion lately about closing the Visitors Center (VC) and there are numerous arguments both Pro and Con. It was a good idea. I know and like the people working there, but I have to be honest and say that I have never seen a visitor’s car parked out front. I am sure the city manager could find positions for staff of the VC. If we are going to do away with this $6,000 per month rental property, we should ask ourselves one question; what does Stillwater really need?
The answer is not obvious, nor is it without controversy. The answer is “Industrial Infrastructure”. If you ask the Chamber of Commerce about money brought into a community and its turnover within that community, manufacturing or creating software, firmware, or hardware in actual products, is far better than the part-time jobs of fast food. Unfortunately, the C.C. is packed with stalwarts who have made their life’s occupation dependent on game-day economics. This kind of economics plan is purely capitalistic using supply and demand, and works well with or without the C.C.
If you ask OSU, they have little desire to see more industry, as it competes with their workforce, often with higher wages. They might have to pay more to keep skilled instructors and students.
The stalwarts are slow to change to say the least. I’m trying to be kind here. To avoid the roadblocks they present, we would have to make some kind of incentive for the C.C. that would give them the reason to focus on what we really need. This should exclude fast food and convenience stores. I might suggest a bonus to C.C. of perhaps $500-$1,000 in the city contribution to the C.C. budget, for every full-time job they bring to town, for let’s say the next three years after the start date. Let’s say they brought in 100 jobs to manufacture widgets. That first year they could see an increase of $50,000 to $100,000 in the budget. We could afford that, after all we are paying double for our utility rates anyway. If Widget Inc. increased that to 200 employees the following year, the bonus would be double. In the final year, they might have 300 employees; triple. See how the incentive grows. This might also apply to current industries that grow with the direct assistance of the C.C.
By now, everyone should know how it hurts a community to lose its industrial infrastructure. I do not have any problem with the Chamber of Commerce assuming the tasks of the VC, if that is in the plan. If I came to town and wanted to learn more about Stillwater, I would start at the C.C. and its list of major industries. I suspect they get a lot of this kind of traffic.