IDEA needs support

Two days ago, we wrote about the positive economic signs we see around Glasgow and Barren County, but we also acknowledged plenty of work remains before our area truly moves beyond the darkest times of the past decade.

A vital asset in this regard is the Industrial Development Economic Authority of Glasgow-Barren County, an entity whose endeavors are not often visible. Business recruitment and retention is, by competitive necessity, a lengthy and often secretive process. Just because IDEA’s work isn’t regularly in the headlines doesn’t mean it’s not working.

When IDEA’s board of directors gathered earlier this week to map out the organization’s strategic priorities for the coming fiscal year, the topic of most discussion was the development of permanent funding sources to “create financial stability for the IDEA operations.” A portion of IDEA’s operations (namely the one full-time and one part-time employee) are funded through a combined $115,000 from the Glasgow and Barren County governments.

More than a decade ago, the IDEA agreed to operate in the red because officials (most of whom are no longer in office) promised increased funding would come at some point down the road. When it didn’t happen, the IDEA began spending money to improve its properties in an effort to attract clients and spark momentum. Now, board members warn, the IDEA’s current funding level isn’t sufficient to maintain the entity beyond three or four years.

Losing the IDEA should not be an option residents of Glasgow and Barren County are willing to accept. In the absence of the IDEA, the responsibility of attracting new industries would probably fall to the Glasgow mayor and the Barren County judge-executive – offices whose holders already have enough to worry about; and who won’t necessarily have the experience required to effectively communicate and negotiate with prospective industries.

It is in the best interest of the community to reaffirm support for the IDEA financially and philosophically. While the average resident might not see or hear what the IDEA is up to from day-to-day, the ramifications of losing the IDEA could be felt in Glasgow and Barren County for generations to come.

Glasgow Daily Times

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