It’s vital challenges are met locally

Published 11:27 am Saturday, August 30, 2014


Several years back I was critical of the local economic development program, FSEDI. Then I had an opportunity to see close up what was going on. I found a hard-working and professional staff under Mrs. [Amanda] Jarrett and an enthusiastic, knowledgeable board, a great team working to bring business to our community. Proof of the pudding was the praise heaped on the FSEDI staff, County and City officials from businesses who decided to locate here. I also learned of the surprising complexity of working with prospects and the intense competition from other localities.

I became a supporter of this marvelous effort to bring jobs and tax paying businesses to Southampton and Franklin.

A less savory proof of another pudding, two, in fact, have recently been brought to the fore. One is the unfilled need for developable land. We have been told by a member of Council that a fine prospect was lost because while two owners of a business site accepted an offer to buy, the third demanded four times as much. We must have land available to prospect without the potential for price gouging, neighborhood resistance and environmental threats. Natural gas availability will help, and FSEDI is striving for that.

The Tidewater News has noted that Franklin Schools rank second from the bottom in Virginia. No young couple wants to bring their children to that sort of education environment. After four years of starkly demonstrated failure and excuse-seeking on the part of school leadership and administration we find ourselves saved from the bottom by Petersburg. Our perception, however, is one of hope with an outstanding new superintendent and a seemingly reinvigorated board.

These two vital challenges must be met or FSEDI must drag not one but two anchors.

Joseph Stutts