Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

Real news for working families.


Columbia County - destined for more incompetence in Economic Development?

Columbia County Economic Development - Blowin' in the wind is right on the money.

On March 9, 2011 you concluded with the following:

Depending on Jax Port to make Columbia County's Inland Port a success is nothing but a pipe dream. The dredging of the St. Johns River, because of both economic conditions and ecological concerns will most likely never happen.
Gov. Scott has rightly committed both money and resources to the Port of Miami.
From Miami to Savanna professional and experienced economic development teams have been operating for decades. The Port of Miami and the Port Authority of Georgia, along with Cecil Field and Jax Port to the east has sealed the fate of Columbia County's Inland Port, making it just another Ellisville Boondoggle to come.

Any person presently living in Columbia County, who has ever lived anyplace in the United States and who has been part of starting or growing a business, has a grasp of what economic development is. 

Unfortunately, it would appear that everyone involved with any aspect of Columbia County Economic Development during the past eighteen plus years is clueless as to how to successfully implement an economic development marketing or business plan.

Columbia County has a group of people born, raised and educated in or near Columbia County. They have zero experience in implementing sound business decisions pertaining to economic development. They may have wonderful visions of future business growth, but lack the ability and experience to implement them. They obviously have never researched or studied successful economic development initiatives, inclusive of marketing or business plans in other parts of the country.

Instead, they gathered local home-grown business people and formed a committee named the Rudder Team. This group led to the subsequent hiring of Fairfield Index. What they received from Fairfield Index was a $60,000 boiler plate document funded by tax payer dollars, because the IDA Executive Director, after over eighteen years of being on the job, did not or could not develop a plan and implement it himself.

Economic Development in Columbia County took a step backwards with the recent formation of the new IDA or EDA Committee. This economic development committee is giving tax-payers a Wearing blender filled with eighteen years of procedural rhetoric, but still no sound business plan.

In the past two years, Columbia County has wasted approximately $380,000.  The IDA salaries (approximate) for two years plus the cost of the Fairfield Index power point, all spent in a down turned economy. The two person IDA staff has and is moving on - a good thing in curtailing poor management practices.  

It is my understanding that the current IDA Executive Director, who has been dysfunctional for over eighteen years, will be involved in the hiring of his replacement.

Does this mean Columbia County tax-payers are destined for more incompetence in Economic Development?