When Economic Vitality Administrator Greg Fisher asked for council’s approval of his Economic Development Fund program priorities and budget two weeks ago, he painted a grim picture of the current situation.
Although some needs — such as replacing an aging county infrastructure — are being addressed, critical pieces of a sound foundation are missing.
A shortage of desirable commercial sites and blight are two issues that have been identified.
“We had a national retailer that we met at the International Conference of Shopping Centers who came into town last week looking for 4,000 square feet for a national sporting goods store. He couldn’t find anything that suited him,” Fisher said. “We’re pushing real hard to get him into something now, but the point is, having a good quality commercial product available is half the battle of getting economic development in the community.”
“We have a lot of aging commercial properties. It comes with the territory when you have a community that was built about the same time. Many of the buildings are 50 and 60 and 70 years old now, and that’s just the time when they either get renovated or fall apart,” Fisher said.
Fisher acknowledged the county’s limitations in cleaning up blight.