How about the news
from Cutler-Hammer? First of all, they may be the county's largest
employer, factoring in somewhere around the 680 job mark. That
includes the recent hiring of some 60-70 personnel. Once again, the
end of the winter months is not necessarily the time of year you
might expect to see those kinds of jobs become available. According
to Patti Becker, human resource manager, that news was not
surprising when you consider that the plant showed record sales and
profits for 2002.
Maybe I'm too
inexperienced to know good news when I hear it, but that sounds like
something the community ought to celebrate! When I know that one
place let a few hundred people go and another place picks up 60 or
more, that is at least a help, if not a step in the right direction.
Because the product
they produce is directly related to the housing market, once again
you might not have expected that strong a showing in this economy.
However, with the residential markets showing a 30-year low in
interest rates and perhaps a bump in housing starts, if not in
remodels, you might see record sales again in 2003.
When was the last
time you or anyone in the county thanked a business like
Cutler-Hammer for doing business here? I'm going to do it publicly
right here, right now. Thank you, Cutler-Hammer, for not only
continuing to do business here, but for continuing to grow and
helping to stabilize our local economy.
I'll go you one
better. What can we do to ensure your longevity? Are there any
potential businesses or manufacturers that we can try to attract
that will lessen your cost of doing business here and ultimately
help us all in the long run? Are there any business tips that you
can pass on to us that might make us more effective in charting our
I'll be visiting
again soon to follow up this discourse. I always suspected that good
things were happening right underneath our noses, but I didn't
suspect this much good news.
Another example would
be the rise of Lincoln College. Under the strong leadership of Dr.
Jack Nutt, the "Lincoln experience" has been felt nationwide. A
local business leader recently remarked that LC is one of less than
20 private junior colleges in the nation. Dr. Nutt surrounded
himself with great people, and the result has been explosive growth.
Vice presidents like Tom Zurkhammer, Allen Pickering and Rod Rumler
have not only done the job for Lincoln College, but they've also had
a very positive and favorable effect on Logan County. Not a bad
residual when capital campaigns come into the picture.
And now the torch has
been passed to Ron Schilling. If he and Dr. Nutt are not a prolific
one-two punch, I don't know who is. Mr. Schilling has been a great
ambassador for LC for a number of years. I would expect those
experiences to pay rich dividends for Lincoln College's immediate
and long-term future.
And I haven't even
mentioned that they've raised a few million dollars toward their
capital campaign goals and that their enrollment is currently the
highest it has ever been!
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I know I'm not all
that clever, but I do think these things should be celebrated too!
I'm not just informing you of these facts because those people are
my friends (isn't it funny how well the faculty, staff and students
of these two colleges get along… I wonder if we could learn anything
from them?), but do you have any idea how much economic impact a
place like Lincoln College has on a community like ours? How about
the tune of between $14 million and $15 million?!
I have it on good
authority that that other college on the east side of town, Lincoln
Christian College and Seminary, has an economic impact of over $20
million. I've also spoken to Heartland College's Kristi Powell, and
they too are at an all-time high enrollment. College students shop,
eat out and buy gas, just to name three. I think I'm going to
celebrate that too.
celebrations, we may have some more to celebrate soon. Rumors
continue to surface regarding the number of potential businesses
hoping to open throughout the county and the city. In addition,
there has been some interest from two or three businesses hoping
that eventually there will in fact be a commerce park on the north
side. There are likely other developments in negotiation that we
know nothing about. Not every potential business takes advantage of
our services and resources. Very few developers take the time or the
opportunity to call us about the projects they are working on. As we
field a number of calls and visits in the chamber and EDC offices,
we do everything in our power to remove obstacles and meet the
client's needs. Hopefully, we will choke you with more good news
than you can possibly stand this summer.
Do I have some
concerns? Yes, I do. Our infrastructure concerns me. As our culture
ages, I'm not sure we're prepared to serve and service our seniors
to the degree of respect that they deserve. If our answer to
education is always going to be to throw out another referendum,
than I'm troubled what kind of a future my son and his buddies have
awaiting them here in Logan County. And while we're at it, we have a
great bunch of teachers and other educators who ought to be
celebrated as well.
But I'll let you in
on a little secret. I didn't take this job for the fame and fortune.
I got tired of hearing how Logan County was going to hell in a hand
basket. I stupidly stepped forward and decided to try to do
something positive that might help us now and that might really help
us somewhere down the road. My efforts have been meager and
victories few and far between, these first 2½ months. My pledge to
you is that I will continue to keep the Lincoln-Logan County banner
flying high in a positive, exciting manner. And yes, there's room on
this bandwagon for you!
(Note: As time allows, I hope to visit as
many businesses, manufacturers and developers as I can to share
their good news with the residents of Logan County.)