Commission candidates respond to Bulletin questionsPublished 3:45pm Monday, October 29, 2012
What do you propose to get businesses to come to Polk County? What incentives, if any, would you offer to businesses interested in coming to the county?
EMILY BARTLETT: (D)
Many people in our county, over multiple generations have raised families working in local mills that are no longer in existence. My own family worked in mills for generations and it provided an adequate living but as we are all aware, those jobs have left our country without much hope of coming back. I am sure that every county in North Carolina with thinkers far brighter than I am are having the same conversation – what do we replace our mills with? Where do those workers go? How can we and in what areas do we retrain workers for future job security?
The experts from Isothermal Planning and Development and Advantage West just spoke to the ETDC concerning this same topic. They mentioned several areas of concern – we have a very limited inventory of existing facilities that are applicable to current manufacturing and distribution standards. We are adjacent to a Tier I county with tremendous tax incentives to entice business to locate there. If manufacturing jobs come back, they will not be our grandparent’s manufacturing jobs. They will require specific training to create a skilled workforce. With fierce competition, we need to make ourselves as competitive and marketable as possible. We’ve got some work to do here in the way of educating our workforce, upgrading our infrastructure and electing a board of commissioners that can work together and put the people of the county first.
MICHAEL GAGE: (R)
We need to bring back manufacturing jobs with benefits that can provide a living wage to the citizens of Polk County at or above past levels. Manufacturing is part of a delicate balance between existing and growing industries such as equestrian, viticulture, tourism and farming. The county needs to address the UDO which is extremely costly to any new business interested in investing in our county. This results in businesses locating in surrounding counties. The new board of commissioners will have to meet with the EDC board and it’s director, to determine what direction the board is heading. Commissioners and the EDC board must work together to find solutions to bring small business manufacturing jobs back to this county. Some options would be: thru improved infrastructure, or with matching local funds, partnering with state grants such was the case with Carolina Yarn Processors of Tryon.
KEITH HOLBERT: (R)
Polk County has the fiber optic capability along with Interstate 26 and highway 74 access to compete with our neighboring counties. However at present our neighboring counties are capitalizing on these strengths, and so far we have not. We should elect leaders with the financial skills to economically make the future become a reality.
RENEÉ MCDERMOTT: (D)
The commissioners’ re-organization of the economic development office, over the criticism of the Republican board members, has resulted in more jobs in Polk County, including textile jobs at CYP. We hired an experienced, trained economic development director, and that has paid off well. In the past year, our economic development office has documented 180 new businesses opening in Polk County.
We must attract a variety of jobs, not only manufacturing. I support agricultural economic development. I voted to extend a Polk County waterline to the ag center at the Mill Spring School. That waterline has helped make the ag center self-sufficient.
When Green River Adventures wanted to expand, I was there to help. I wrote amendments to our ordinances that would allow “nature-oriented non-motorized outdoor recreation,” uses compatible with the beauty of the mountains. In record time, the planning board and commissioners unanimously adopted my plan. I stand ready to help other businesses this way.
I support the NC business incentives and the local incentives adopted by the board of commissioners. Those incentives attracted the CYP jobs. The incentives are equally available to new businesses and existing Polk businesses that want to expand. See www.polkedc.com/doing-business-here/incentives.html for details.
We should provide “one-stop-shopping” services to help businesses with all local requirements and permits.
My opponents say that Polk must cut regulations to attract businesses. The evidence says that is not true. Good businesses want a good environment and a good quality of life. Counties my opponents cite as attractive have spent millions of dollars providing industrial sites. Polk can do that too, if citizens want to raise taxes.
No small thing, of course, in bringing businesses and jobs to Polk County is keeping good, open, clean, stable county government, and keeping debt down and taxes low. I’ve excelled in doing those things.