Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

Opinion

May 6, 2014

Long-range economic plan needed

Dear Editor,

I agree with your column imploring Batesville residents to shop locally. Our mayor has done a marvelous job with the downtown and it looks great!

However, if no one sees downtown, its beauty is wasted. The obvious solution is we need to grow Batesville and bring more people into our city. Based on published reports, Batesville’s population has actually been declining in recent years.

Ripley County was Indiana’s worst job-producing county last year. That can’t be blamed on location, as neighboring Decatur County was the second highest job producer. We should consider this a major wake-up call and recognize we have a serious problem.

The answer is economic development and job creation. We must create new jobs here to replace those lost. If not, we will suffer the same fate as many small communities. Neighboring Connersville recently declared a financial emergency because it can’t pay its bills.

I believe we need to do two things. First, we need a comprehensive, five-year economic plan for Batesville that lays out our vision of the companies we want to attract, how we will attract them and how we will convince them to relocate here. The proposed shell building would be part of such a plan. Currently it seems to be our only plan.

Second, we should act on the plan and be more pro-active in selling Batesville. Based on our economic plan, we should go out and initiate contact with businesses we’d like to relocate here. Many businesses are moving from neighboring states to Indiana, just not to Batesville.

We have a lot of competition as most communities in Indiana are actively seeking new businesses. But as a long-time Batesville Bulldog, I know we play to win. Let’s just get in the game!

Kevin Chaffee, Batesville

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