Recommendations for the future of the Barren County Economic Authority proposed last week by a subcommittee included the suggestion of partnering with the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce to help market Glasgow as part of a wider regional effort.
While it's understandable the concerns of some officials that spending Barren County taxpayer money with a Warren County business group may not be well-received by some, having a relationship with our prosperous neighbors to the west makes sense.
Let's face it — we're never going to be Bowling Green. We don't have a major interstate running through our city. We don't have a major university within the Glasgow limits. We don't have over 120,000 people living in our county.
But with Bowling Green growing by leaps and bounds, we could certainly stand to benefit from their success.
A big city is like an anchor business in a community. While many small business owners understandably don't like major chains, it is those establishments that often spark economic growth in a community. For example, look at the number of businesses that are located adjacent to Walmart in Glasgow.
The same is true with big cities. When you have a city the size of Bowling Green in the middle of what's been a traditionally rural area of Kentucky, those smaller communities surrounding that city have a chance to garner additional revenue and economic development opportunities from the established success of big brother. I mean, how do you think Louisville got a basketball team? I'm sorry, I'll quit with the Louisville hate one of these days.
But in order to capitalize on such opportunities, we must be willing to take chances. No, that doesn't mean throw logic to the wind and start giving money to any slick salesman with a dream and a neck tie. We must take logical, reasoned risks where our potential upside outweighs any damage we could incur.
As proposed by the subcommittee, we could partner with the Bowling Green chamber for a year until the future direction of the BCEA is established. More on that later.
If we see no positive results from partnering with Bowling Green, then we don't spend any more money on the idea. We cut our losses and move on to the next venture. But if our investment pays off, it could be the beginning of something great for Barren County and Bowling Green.
It's hard to imagine that we wouldn't see some benefit from being promoted along with Bowling Green. Businesses and people are obviously looking to move to Bowling Green in region-changing fashion. Perhaps Glasgow — with its lower cost of living, small community setting and blue-collar workforce — could attract some of those new residents and some of those prospective businesses.
Bringing more people and more rooftops to Barren County is also good for existing businesses and our economic viability.
This suggestion, along with the other recommendations made by the subcommittee, has yet to see a vote. Hopefully our leaders will give it serious consideration. Partnering with Bowling Green doesn't mean our existing economic development initiatives are failures, but rather that we want more partners at the table to improve our community. Sometimes we have to put our egos aside to reach our full potential.
Back to the future of BCEA. Without a doubt, we need someone serving as a full-time director of the organization once Dan Iacconi retires June 30. Economic development isn't a part-time gig for a community the size of Barren County.
Additionally, our elected officials should continue to play an active role in economic development, but they also need to put people on boards who can be trusted to do what's right and what's sensible. We don't need our boards and committees bombarded by politics and outside influences like we're seeing occur with the Glasgow Electric Plant Board. There's too much at stake.
Despite all the naysaying, we have some real opportunities in Barren County. Let's explore partnerships that will help us, and, if necessary, piggyback on the success of Bowling Green. We certainly have supported Warren County enough over the years with the leakage of our disposable income spending.
Suddeath is the editor of the Glasgow Daily Times. His column appears in the Thursday edition and at various times throughout the week. Reach him at 270-678-5171, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @DsuddeathGDT.