Amid negativity, EDA maintains proper focus

Fairmont’s Economic Development Authority and its coordinator, Linsey Preuss, are keeping their eyes on the ball. Thank goodness.

The group this week discussed ongoing concerns about sufficient child care and workforce housing. These are the kinds of issues that actually impact economic development locally. Other factors include workforce training and the upheaval in retail, with entities like Amazon.com flexing their muscle across the country and down into communities like ours.

We know it has been easy for some local residents — and even some local elected officials – to get caught up in a hysteria about some business closings and about the city “turning away businesses.” But these emotions do not match reality, and those who express them cannot actually name any businesses the city has snubbed. “Stories” about it happening are just that.

What is really going on, and has been for years, is a diligent effort by entities like the Economic Development Authority and its staff, as well as by other city employees, city leaders and a wide cross-section of others interested in seeing Fairmont prosper and grow.

Economic development is not a simple task. If anyone thinks the city can snap its fingers and suddenly bring in a manufacturing plant that employs 200 people then they are living under a misapprehension. While the big announcements of new businesses coming to town are fabulous when they happen, it is more often the case that economic development happens through (small) expansions of existing businesses. Or through existing businesses fostering or attracting complementary businesses that supply or service them.

Economic development requires a base of knowledge, planning, tools, commitment and, yes, patience. We are fairly certain that economic development professionals will never suggest that panic is a needed ingredient. Because it never is.