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A good first step. That is the most compelling conclusion from last week’s work session of the Union County Commissioners where economic development was discussed.
At the meeting, the commissioners discussed the significance of linking with La Grande and other county cities to frame a successful economic development blueprint for the future.
The Union County Chamber of Commerce is already moving ahead on the issue and recently convened a meeting where mayors from around Union County met to discuss their vision of economic prosperity.
Bob Kavanaugh, chamber director, said he’s gathered input from the community about their expectations of economic development. He commented in a story in this newspaper recently that there is no set plan and answers “are all over the board.”
That’s OK. The answers to what would be the best way forward for economic prosperity in our county should be diverse. Everyone will have a different view, a different answer to what is the best path. Yet, that is what makes the search and the input from the community so critical. The more ideas thrown out the better. That’s because there really isn’t a set diagram for an economic future. All ideas are needed.
With the dissolution of the relationship between the Union County Economic Development Corporation and Union County, now is an excellent time for elected leaders and those of the public interested in the subject to sit down and hash out many viable economic development plans.
Such an endeavor will not be easy. But it isn’t supposed to be. However, whenever a group of people can convene and throw out ideas, the county — and by extension, its residents — will be better for it.
What is the best economic path forward? We don’t have that answer. Neither does anyone else. But working together we can find a path forward to help the county.
One item that needs to be remembered is that whatever plan is developed, can’t be a quick-fix blueprint. Elected leaders need to look not 10 years down the road but 50. And there should not be only one plan for future economic success. Several equally viable methods should be studied and then developed. That way, if one concept fails to mature, officials can switch seamlessly to another one.
There has always been a lot of talk about economic development in Union County. Way, way too much talk. As the future beckons, talk will become cheap. If elected leaders are serious about coming up with a solid economic development plan for the entire county, they need to do more than pay lip service to the idea. That takes time and a certain amount of moral fortitude that is often lacking in elected leaders.
We must remember that only by working together will we be successful.