Attitudes affect the recovery process

Published 7:54 am Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The day International Paper Co. made the announcement the Franklin Mill Site would be closing marked a day in our hearts and minds that will never be forgotten. However, as many sat in disbelief, hoping that this must be a mistake, it also was the day that the economic recovery process began.

Having experience with this type of shock before, watching the reaction to steel, chemical and glass manufacturing plants close in my previous years, brought back memories of those events and involvement with some of those recovery initiatives. It is a process that will be challenging to all that become involved, but everyone must now accept the decisions that have been made and begin to move forward.

A team of very compassionate and resourceful people have been assembled at the state, regional and local level to “Focus on the People” — those workers who have been directly affected.

Their mission is to listen, provide hope and educate them on the human and financial resources that will be available in the coming months.

A second team, people who will be involved in the “Focus on Economic Recovery” will also be assembled. That process began the same day of the announced closing as Lisa Perry, economic development director of Isle of Wight and I sat down and began to outline questions, ideas and resource people who need to be contacted.

There are still many questions that remain unanswered relative to the disposition of the IP plant assets. That part will take much time, but what we do know is that we will have a tremendous asset to market to the world in our local workforce. The human resource factor; a skilled, experienced, available workforce, is extremely valuable and important to companies considering decisions on new facilities and production capacity.

What remains on the IP site is a specialty manufacturing facility, one that IP probably has no interest in offering to another similar and/or competitive paper company. However there are viable, alternative uses and we are already pursuing those industry sectors. The potential to consider biomass fuel production and biomass energy production begin to surface at the top of the list.

In the days ahead, we will be marshaling all the economic development resources we can think of to assist our communities. That includes financial resources and intellectual resources to set our course for the future. At this juncture, all ideas that could lead toward recovery are welcome; so please think creatively and forward those thoughts to me or Lisa Perry.

Our mission will be to establish clear and effective goals, which are understandable by everyone; to set our standards high for our economic recovery and be mindful and prepared that as we try new ideas and concepts not every one of them will be successful as we would like. The current situation we have is a challenge, but it is one that we can overcome. We will take charge and we will do what is right for our community.

Over the years I have carried a card with me that references a quote about “attitude” written by Charles Swindoll, American writer and clergyman. It has guided me throughout a great deal of my life and I would like to share that with you:

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.

Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company … a church … a home.

The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past. We cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable.

The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude … I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me, and 90 percent how I react to it. And so it is with you … we are in charge of our attitudes.”

As we move forward, our own attitudes and our community’s attitude will dictate how successful we will be in the future.