Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

Opinion

March 19, 2014

GUEST COMMENTARY: Community, candidates must support spec building project

GLASGOW — I appreciated the Daily Times’ strong and wise editorial on Saturday, March 15, supporting the construction of industrial spec building by the Glasgow-Barren County IDEA board. The newspaper is exactly right. Our community must begin construction on an industrial spec building as quickly as possible. A community without an available speculative building is like a store that maintains no inventory, relying solely on custom orders.

Over 20 years ago, I had the opportunity to serve as IDEA’s executive director (May 1992-November 1996). It was an honor and a privilege to represent Glasgow and Barren County as the designated “sales representative.” I also served on the IDEA board for almost 15 years as a representative of the Barren Fiscal Court. Today, I have no official relationship with IDEA. Like many people in this community, I am simply a businessperson and a private citizen who wants a strong and vibrant Barren County, not just for the benefit of my business, but also for the benefit of our next generation of Barren Countians. I hope to leave my son’s generation with a community that offers opportunities even greater than those afforded me.

Barren County has a lot to offer. It has a strong workforce of residents that wants to improve its opportunities and that can compete with any other Kentucky community. However, in the vast majority of cases, when a manufacturer decides to expand, they are reacting to an immediate need. They must begin meeting their customer’s demands as rapidly as possible, and the utilization of a speculative building reduces that time of response by four to six months. If a community does not have an immediately available option, it will often lose to a community that can respond more rapidly. If our local governments cannot work together to fund and build a spec building, our workers might miss an opportunity for a better life.

This is election year. This is the year when the candidates for mayor, city council, judge-executive and fiscal court must be most accountable to the voters. While there are many important issues for our community, the issue that will most determine who I vote for is the support of IDEA and the commitment to provide funding for the construction of a spec building. I hope voters will join me in demanding that commitment.

We are fortunate to have many fine people offering themselves to elected service. However, if a candidate is not willing to commit to a meaningful financial investment to adequately fund IDEA and build a spec building, then I urge you not to vote for that candidate. The strength of Barren County’s economy – now and for future generations – is at stake.

Steve Newberry, of Hiseville, is president and CEO of Commonwealth Broadcasting Corp.

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