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Friday, November 16, 2012

City Meetings this week... Inspiring Spaces & the Airport

Went to a couple of City meetings this week. One was for "Inspiring Spaces" on Tuesday night at Highland Rec. Let's say that most of the people who I spoke with that attended those meetings were Uninspired. The meeting was basically a rehash of the presentation made to the City Council a few weeks ago. There is a feeling amongst most people who pay attention that the city has made up it's mind about what it is going to do. It is obvious to most that they have decided that they want to do something along Main Avenue Northeast from the area where it splits off to around City Hall. And on the map that was shown, areas 1 and 2 on the map were (tada) Union Square and the SALT block. In my Yoda voice, "I think that not to be a coincidence."

I really don't think that Hickory Inc. is looking at these cities that they visited properly. They are saying that they invested in their cities and this caused industry to come to those areas and that simply is not the case. They are looking at Greenville, SC and Chattanooga. Those cities development looks great because they landed a couple of auto manufacturers (BMW and Volkswagen respectfully). They have seen major investment in their area's at all levels from the federal and state level associated with these plants and from local businesses.  Those plants are highly valuable because they are employment intense industries. In articles about Volkswagen and Chattanooga they state that they came there because of the wage structure.

It is my opinion that the investments that have been made in Hickory of late are not going to resurrect our fortunes and there is really nothing to talk about when it comes to these issues until we start dealing with the run down areas. I am not talking about the look when I say rundown. That is the most superficial aspect of rundown and throwing up some bushes and slapping some paint on those areas is not going to change the dynamics. It is about the marketplace.

There is hope for that old Hollar Hosiery Mill, not because of the renovation, but because of its location and the fact that there are businesses already lined up to move in there. Will it make an earth shattering impact? No, because it only rearranges the deck chairs. People that go there to eat or shop or see a band will be people who go to other restaurants, bars, and stores in the area. So, it will pull customers from those other local existing venues, but no one is going to flock to Hickory to visit those shops. And if it doesn't increase the economic impact on the dynamics of our residents, then it isn't going to make a dent on the overall Economics of the area. But, I will say that it is a feel good effort and it does look better and it is a very good investment, if we do get some labor intense industries in the area that can give people disposable income to spend.

I also went to the airport for the city's special session there. Again in my opinion, there really wasn't a need for a special session there. It was another feel good story and the one thing that I came away with is a feeling that the airport is in very good hands with Terry Clark out there running the show.

As has been pointed out here, and because of actual conversations we have had with people who utilize the airport and its services, the moves that have occurred at the airport are great and they are long overdue. For the most part, they were moves that were recommended by the Airport Taskforce back in 2006. If Hickory Inc. would have followed the recommendations at the time, they would have reaped millions of dollars in revenue through the fuel sales and other operations plus they wouldn't have lost the revenues they did related to airplane owners not wanting their planes parked at the airport. There were also costs associated with the way the previous FBO mismanaged the airport's maintenance and didn't pay their bills in a timely fashion and/or didn't pay bills due to their bankruptcy.

Now, that is all I have to say today. I haven't written as much about the local scene, because really there isn't much going on with the local scene as far as the subjects we delve into here on the Hickory Hound. Now behind the scenes there are developments, but as we wind down 2012, we aren't going to see much coming from the city. It is all under the radar waiting for 2013.

We are, however, interested in seeing what Hickory Inc. is going to try to sneak in at the last City Council meeting before Christmas and the New Year. Remember demolishing the pools and the tent on Union Square both took place at those City Council meetings in 2010 and 2011. We wonder if something that has been kept under the radar related to Inspiring Spaces will occur at those meetings.

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