You’re in for a treat today because I’m writing about economic development and I don’t like writing about economic development.
That means it’ll be brief, at least by Just Wright Citrus standards.
What do you think of the logo? Isn’t it cool? We’ll talk more about that in a minute.
Citrus County commissioners are reinventing the wheel with economic development by moving toward creation of a board to oversee it, just as we do with tourism.
We’ve done this before. I remember writing about it many moons ago and frankly, can’t remember why the public economic development authority didn’t work. But it obviously didn’t because it’s not around anymore.
I was going to do some decent research on this until it became obvious I’d have to also research the research. So, being a retired guy, I quickly gave up that notion.
But going back 30 years the names of public and private attempts float by like clouds: Committee of 100, Bridge 2000, EDC, two separate EDACCs. I’m probably leaving some out.
Who knows? The idea may fly this time around. Lots of things that didn’t gel in decades past may find the right fit during this critical time in our county’s future.
Because it’s never been about the groups, public or private. They’ve all done the best they can with what they have. The issue has always been a political one and, in this county, that means you and me.
I’ve mentioned the pendulum swing, how every six or eight years we shift our priorities as a community and the politics follow. Eight years ago the priority was stopping government spending. Today priorities have shifted to our many wants and needs, especially as impacted by the Suncoast Parkway.
Economic development, though, hasn’t seen much of a pendulum effect at all. Because of that, it’s an area that hasn’t had a lot of consistency on a county level. The community support for economic development always seems a little lukewarm.
To be fair, it’s hard to see economic development when it’s successful. The county is developing an industrial park at the Inverness Airport, and it approved another one in Holder. Right now it’s a bunch of vacant property. But to prospective companies, it’s a potential goldmine.
And that brings us back the logo. “Juiced for Citrus” is the theme of a three-day visit by “site selectors” to Citrus County.
The county’s former economic development director scheduled this event for later this month. Since his resignation in January, county PIO Veronica Kampschroer, a first-ballot inductee into the Lindsay Blair PIO Hall of Fame, took over the project and has lined up a nice visit for these folks.
Along with a round of golf and, of course, swimming with manatees, the visitors will see the Inverness Airport business park, the Suncoast Parkway interchange areas, and the Holder Industrial Park site. They’ll hear from business and government leaders, and my guess is these folks will leave here wowed.
Once home, they'll be juiced (ha!) to tell their bosses what a find Citrus County is. And they’ll return with high-paying jobs that fit well into our community.
Look. I don’t know if that’ll happen or not. But I love the attitude of that logo. Someone should make a T-shirt out of it.
Hey, this promoting Citrus County is on us, not the government. It can have policies and all that, but if we aren’t excited about our home, it’ll rub off once those visitors cross the county line.
This site visit is Feb. 21-23. In all likelihood I won’t even know they’re here. But just in case, I’ll be sure to put a little spring in my step.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.